|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Nathaniel consisted of four men and a woman. He lived in a house over looking the sea. Each of his constituent parts had a separate bedroom. On summer evenings he'd eat his dinner in his garden, and his constituents would look out over the sea as the sun began to set.
He felt an inner conflict when two of the men fell in love with the woman. To ease the tension inside him, he looked for activities to occupy his mind. On a Sunday afternoon he went to the local cultural centre, where he saw demonstrations of traditional handcrafts. As he was looking at a woman using a spinning wheel, he noticed that two of his parts were missing. The woman and one of the men had gone off on their own. Nathaniel was very disconcerted by this. When the two missing parts rejoined him after half an hour, he had to go home to sit down.
Nine months later the woman gave birth to a girl. Nathaniel had just got bigger, and more effeminate. This worried some of Nathaniel's constituent parts. One of those parts had a beard, and he considered himself to be the most important part because of the beard. He was afraid that Nathaniel would undergo a sex change. The man who lived next door feared becoming a fox. This is why he always made sure he wasn't a fox before leaving the house. He'd look in the mirror before going outside, and he'd carefully examine his face for fox-like features. When he walked down city streets he often got the feeling that people were looking at him, and he'd be afraid that he'd turned into a fox. He often ordered chicken in restaurants without thinking, and he was always horrified when he'd realise what he'd done.
The bearded part of Nathaniel made all of Nathaniel stand in front of the mirror for ten minutes every morning. He was looking out for signs that Nathaniel was becoming even more effeminate.
One morning the bearded part of Nathaniel saw another man with a beard in the mirror. Nathaniel had grown overnight. At least this time he'd become slightly more masculine again, the bearded part thought. But when he looked closer he noticed that the newcomer was wearing a fake beard. It could be a woman in disguise.
Overall, Nathaniel was glad to have the newcomer. As well as growing overnight, he had also become a brilliant cook. He had acquired the ability to make potatoes out of toffee. These tasted much better than the potatoes made out of potatoes that Nathaniel had been eating all his life.
As they were eating the toffee potatoes in the garden one evening, two gangsters arrived and they aimed guns at the part of Nathaniel with the fake beard. Being shot here wouldn't prove fatal to Nathaniel, but he still didn't want to be shot. He had to think quickly. Action was called for, and this is what Nathaniel came up with: he started singing. He could sound demonic when all of his constituent parts sang together. When the gangsters heard the sound they lost their nerve and ran away. The newcomer was overjoyed, and the rest of Nathaniel were happy as well. They told the newcomer he was welcome to stay in Nathaniel for as long as he wanted, and he thanked them for their hospitality.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Something to think about before buying a knife.
I looked into the fridge to see what I could have for dinner, but the fridge was empty. It looked different without food. It reminded me of a room devoid of furniture, a sight I'd often seen before. I hoped I wouldn't have to start eating the furniture again.
I closed the fridge door. I tried opening it again a few minutes later, but the fridge was just as empty as it had been the last time I checked. I must have eaten the food that was in it, though I couldn't remember doing so. This wouldn't be unusual. The food I cook is as lacking in taste as the air. I often forget the air I've been breathing as well.
I decided to go to the shop. Fortunately, my wallet wasn't as empty as the fridge. I had recently acquired some money when I sold my wheelbarrow. It had done fifty-thousand miles and it needed a new exhaust, but I still got a good price for it. I put on my raincoat and I walked down the narrow road towards the town. There were many potholes in the road, and these had filled with rain water. The water in the holes was brown. I enjoyed looking at the brown polka dot potholes on the grey road, but I've been told that I have the fashion sense of someone who's only ever seen a bog.
When I got to the shop I asked the shop keeper if I could buy some food. He said, "Some food, you say?"
"Yes, some food," I replied.
He looked at me as if I was mad. To get a closer look at me he put his monocle over his right eye. But this was all for show because his right eye was made of glass and his monocle was obscured by a black eye patch. He asked me what I wanted to do with the food. I told him I hoped to eat it, and this seemed to confirm his suspicions that I was mad.
"To 'eat' it?" he said.
"Yes, to eat it," I replied. "With my mouth."
It all seemed clear to him then. "Oh right, food," he said. "You're looking for food. I might be able to help you find some food."
He gave me a tour of the shop and he pointed out all the different types of food you could put into your mouth. A lot of it seemed too big to put into my mouth. When I highlighted this problem he showed me the vast selection of knives he had on sale. He explained that a knife could be used to cut the food into smaller pieces.
I had never owned a knife before, but I could see the benefits of buying one. I didn't have enough money to afford both the food and the knife, so I went home to see if I had any more wheelbarrows to sell.
Unfortunately, I didn't have any left. I've never had more than one. I wondered how else I could make some money. I thought of Maureen, who lives down the road. I had often done odd jobs for her before and she had always paid me, despite my protestations. This time my protestations might well be lacklustre.
Maureen was always breaking things. She broke every cloud she used. When I called to see her she told me she'd broken her garage door again. The door was very temperamental, she said. It would break every time she went near it. She had to tiptoe around the garage. I fixed the door for her and she insisted on paying me for the job, even though I said there was really no need. I was going to go to the shop to buy the food and the knife, but she was cooking the breeze for dinner and she asked me if I'd like to join her. It looked very appetising, so I said I would. The breeze was strong, but I enjoyed it. We didn't need knives or forks to eat it.
It was starting to get dark outside, and I thought it was time I went home. I was in the middle of thanking Maureen for the lovely meal when an enormous rat ran across the table and left the kitchen through an open door. If there had been cutlery on the table I might well have attacked the creature as it ran across my plate. Maureen said that the rat had been around for weeks, but she hadn't taken much notice of it because she was more concerned about the ghost who appeared after dark every evening.
We didn't have to wait long for the ghost to arrive. If this had been my house I'd have been more concerned about the rat because the ghost had impeccable manners. He'd be the last person you'd expect to find running across your plate.
I asked him how he'd met his end and he said, "I got into a fight with the wrong people. Actually, it's not so much that they were the wrong people -- it's more to do with the quantity of them. There were seven of them and only one of me. We said the rosary before they killed me. My hair survived and it's been impersonating me ever since."
His hair arrived in the kitchen a few minutes later. It seemed slightly dishevelled, like a man whose wig is on backwards. Its impersonation of the ghost wasn't very good, but I didn't pay much attention to it. I realised that the 'rat' I had seen was actually the ghost's hair. If I had been within reach of a knife earlier I would have stabbed the hair. This is what convinced me that I was better off without a knife. Ever since then I've only eaten food that doesn't need to be cut. Maureen has given me some very good recipes for the breeze.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The morning sun illuminated the kitchen in Olivia's apartment. This was going to be a good day, she told herself. She was going to spend the day with Darragh and Caroline, and she was determined not to spend most of it listening to Darragh talking about the blood he found on his feet. She had already spent too long listening to Darragh talking about the blood on his feet.
She was also determined to forget about the footsteps she often heard on the spiral stairs outside the door of her apartment. It sounded like a group of people running up the stairs, and she never saw them because they moved too quickly. Darragh told her about models who get bored with being looked at all the time. They become depressed, and they start moving very quickly so that all you'll see is a blur. She couldn't find out any more about the models because Darragh started talking about the blood on his feet again.
One day she ran up the stairs after them. She could hear their footsteps on the bare wooden floorboards above her as she went up the steps, but the sound of the footsteps stopped just before she got to the top of the stairs. She climbed up into a huge empty room. There was an open window at the other end. She went to it and she looked out. She saw a concrete path three storeys beneath the window. If something with feet had jumped out of a window three storeys up and landed on a concrete path, it wouldn't be using those feet to walk away in a hurry, but there was nothing on the path, not even any blood. She didn't mention this to Darragh because she knew what he'd start talking about.
She didn't hear the footsteps over the following week and she thought that the feet and their owners might be gone for good, but then one Saturday evening she heard them again. She knew there was little point in trying to see who or what was making the sound, so instead she just listened. She tried to make out how many sets of feet there were. After weeks of listening she came to the conclusion that there were at least eight feet -- four sets if each owner had two.
She got Darragh and Caroline to listen as well. They didn't think it mattered how many of them there were. Caroline suggested trying to remember the first time she heard the footsteps. Olivia said it was a Saturday evening in May when she first heard the sound. She had just come back from a boat trip with Darragh and Caroline. She hadn't taken much notice of the footsteps at the time because if she took note of everything she'd have very little time left to remember the afternoon she had just spent on the lake. In retrospect she realised she had paid too much attention to the boat trip and not enough to the footsteps, but Caroline disagreed. She believed that the footsteps required much less attention and the boat trip much more, so on this fine July morning she was ready to go out on the lake with Caroline and Darragh again. She was determined to forget about the footsteps and to ignore Darragh. All of her attention would be devoted to her surroundings.
After an hour on the lake the plan started to work. The clear blue sky and the still waters of the lake emptied her mind of all but the clear blue sky and the still waters of the lake. Even Darragh seemed to have succumbed to his surroundings. He hadn't said a word about his feet since they left the car.
She might not have thought about the footsteps or Darragh's feet until they got back to the car if she hadn't felt a breeze on her face. She got the impression that something was there, something that had reduced itself to nothing but its own breath, but in that breath she could sense what it once was. She had a sense of a being who was more powerful than anything else on the earth, someone capable of seeing and knowing much more than any human ever could. Of course, it might just have been the breeze.
As they drove home she tried to convince herself that it was just the breeze, but she failed. She started to wonder if the footsteps were like the breath, the last remaining manifestations of beings who had once been much more than footsteps. She listened to the sound of the footsteps again that evening and she got the impression of a group of people who loved a good party. This impression was reinforced the next time she heard the sound.
She took a small table up to the empty room, and on it she put a bottle of wine and some glasses. The next time she heard the footsteps she went outside. She stood at the bottom of the stairs. She could hear the footsteps moving across the floor above, but they stopped when they got to the table. When she went up later, the wine was gone.
Her impression of these beings became more complete every time she heard the sound. She thought they'd like listening to jazz, so she left a record player and some jazz records in the room, along with another bottle of wine. The next time she heard the footsteps she went outside and shortly afterwards she heard the sound of jazz coming from upstairs. She looked up towards the top of the stairs, and she got a very brief glimpse of a face looking down at her. She found it very difficult to describe this face later. It seemed as if the features were blurred.
She started to think that by filling in the details in her mental picture of these people she was returning them to the fullness of their being. This is a project she's still working on. She discovered that they also like strawberries and the music of Erich Korngold. Just last week she got a glimpse of a white dress and brown shoes at the top of the stairs, and she thought she heard one of them say the word 'orange'.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I saw a swarm of bees fly in formation towards me. The formation was shaped like an arrow. It passed right through me, and the bees took something from me on the way. I had a feeling that something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. At first I wondered if they'd taken an organ like a heart or a liver. After an hour I felt no physical side-effects, but I still had the sense that something was missing. The bees had left a spiritual hole inside me.
I tried to fill the hole by listening to music. I went for a walk in the hills where I was surrounded by the beauty of nature. I watched a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat and then pull some cheese out of the rabbit. But none of these things filled the hole.
I told my neighbour, Melanie, about what had happened. She gave me a chicken to fill the hole. I brought the chicken home with me, but it didn't fill the empty space inside me. I started to suspect that she had given me the chicken because she wanted someone to baby-sit it. She gave me a bag full of the chicken's favourite toys as well.
I remembered my cousin Hilda trying to eat a whole chicken. She managed to fit the head into her mouth, but the other end was sticking out. The other end laid an egg. She boiled the egg and she ate that instead. These thoughts made me wonder if my subconscious was trying to tell me that the hole could be filled with food. The chicken didn't look very appetising, so we went to the shop and I bought all of my favourite food. I bought something for the chicken as well. On the way home I stopped at the off-licence to get a bottle of whiskey. I spent the rest of the evening eating and drinking, but the hole was as big as ever.
I returned the chicken to Melanie on the following day. I told her that I still had this sense that something was missing. She suggested going to see a musical called 'The Apple of my Egg'. In response to her suggestion I shook my head so vigorously that the skin around my skull came loose and covered my eyes. I tried to put my skin back in its correct place, but I couldn't find the eye-holes. I needed her assistance to put it back. She enjoyed holding my head, and I enjoyed the experience as well. I asked her if she'd be interested in having an affair. She checked her diary and she said she'd be able to fit one in on the following evening.
Our affair went very well, even though it fizzled out after an hour. After a long silence I asked her if she'd like to go to a nearby restaurant. She said no because the last time she was there a waiter got sick on her monkey. Or her monkey got sick on a waiter -- she couldn't remember which. She had to leave to meet a man called Kevin. He used to be afraid of his erratic spring-mounted eyeballs. He could easily poke someone in the eye with his eye while he was talking to them. His eyeballs could pop out at any time. She had given him a make-over. His new look allowed him to wear sunglasses all day long. The sunglasses were tied on so they'd block his eyes if they popped out. He was expecting her to have an affair with him. I can imagine how he'd expect this.
My affair with Melanie was the perfect filler for the empty space inside me. This made me wonder what the bees were doing with whatever they took from me. Sometimes I feel a need to have an affair with Mrs. Memplonk next door, but she loves her husbands so much she married one of them. She keeps the rest of them in her shed. An affair with her would fill the hole with guilt. I've found that drink is a much better filler for the hole on the rare occasions when it opens up again. A bottle of whiskey will put me off the idea of an affair, and it puts the women off as well.
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.
More blogs about Storytelling.