Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


A Short Story

   You can make some long stories short and still be telling them at dawn. Stories about trips to the moon rarely get finished before a new day begins. Some people say you should chew gum instead of telling a story. They point out that chewing gum will rarely keep you up all night and that listening to someone chewing gum is more enjoyable than someone telling a story about a trip to the moon. I have a story about the time I found a set of false teeth. I didn't want to put them in my mouth without testing them on an animal first, so I put them into a dog's mouth, but he ran away.
   In the longer version of this story, there's a trip to the moon. But I can easily cut that out and greatly reduce the length of the story without diminishing its impact, and ensuring that it has a chance of competing with someone chewing gum.
   I chased the dog through the fields, and then... [Scenes Deleted] ...I was chased by a farmer with a pike, two astronauts, a priest, two volleyball teams and a motorbike gang, along with the dog who had my false teeth. You could tell that the gang were evil because they kept jam in their mouths. They'd stick a knife in their mouths to get the jam and spread it on bread. I'm not going to mention where they kept the butter. The chase came to an end when I came across a man who was standing on a wooden bridge over a stream. A strange noise was coming from his brain. You could hear the sound through his nose. Myself, all the people who had been chasing me and the dog all listened at his nose until dawn. It sounded as if something in his brain was chewing gum. The dog was lulled to sleep by the sound, and I was able to remove the false teeth from his mouth and put them in my own mouth without anyone noticing. I casually walked away while everyone else was distracted by the sound from the man's nose. The motorbike gang were making their breakfast. They had started a fire and they were frying sausages, eggs and rashers on it. I think it's best that I end this story before mentioning where they kept the food.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Stacey and George

   Stacey and George were perfect for each other. They both liked metal. She had a pierced nose and he had two staples in his fold. Her mother didn't like George. His gooballs nearly popped out of his head when Stacey told him all her mother had said about the traffic in and out of his head. He didn't like the thought of having her as a mur-in-law and she didn't want a son-in-lawn with green hair that he hadn't mown in over a year. But he needed to impress her for Stacey's sake.
   They spent a long weekend together. You could drive a but-bus through the space between 'They stayed with her aunt' and 'her aunt lived in a hole'. In the evenings her aunt drank a lot of whatskey and dot dot dot I remember when I was what I was when I was no-high to a dot's meow. In every hour there would be a few seconds when she'd make sense before rolling what she'd made up into a ball and throwing it out the indow or in the outdoor or at the painting of a wet piano. On one of those occasions she told George he could impress Stacey's mother with a bit of entrepreneurial flair.
   They decided to leave on the following day when the aunt's friend Violet arrived and it became too crowded in the hole. They went to his uncle Albert's house. Albert had ten spare bedrooms and he was delighted to see Stacey and George because he wanted someone to house-sit his house while he went to visit Mrs. Foldegold to see if she'd made any progress with her latest invention (child-proof locks for eye-lids). The journey to Mrs. Foldegold's house would take a few days. He used his M pony while his L pony was being repaired.

   George had an idea. He could start a guesthouse while his uncle was away and he could advertise it as a haunted house to draw in the crowds. Making a success of this would be just the sort of thing to impress Stacey's mother.
   Tourists arrove in their droves when news of the haunted house spread. George and Stacey had to send most of them away. They got a man called Clive to pretend to be the ghost. He used to do some odd jobs for Uncle Albert. They found him in the garden using a squaredriver to fight off the cloudboys who advance on him with tennis rackets.
   The house looked spooky at night.

   But the only ghostly thing about Clive was the slow flecks of snow flakes falling from his shoulders in the moonlight. The guests were angry because of this obvious charade, but then the real ghost appeared. When she introduced herself as Mrs. Gladflug she gave them all enough of a fright to make cow bunnies jump Dover the white cliffs of the moon when the sun's gone down. She saw that she had an audience and she started talking. The more she rambled on, the more she eased their fears. She spoke about a day spent working in the gardens around this house. "The mothibirds were flyering around my hairspace and my hair piece was making grumpfudge. I made them go getaway with my fly-swisher. I dig dugged a hole in the gardilawn when the flyspider's backs were turned, digged dug. I found a box of gold in the hole and I was afraid in case whoever had birdied it there might come back and find me with their gold. So I buried it somewhere else in the garden to give me time to think. But I took too long to think and I died before I had a chance to use the gold or lose it on horses."
   All the guests were excited when they went to bed. George and Stacey were happy with a job well done, but when they woke up in the morning and looked out they saw a garden full of guests with shovels and lawns with holes. Everyone was trying to find the treasure, and Uncle Albert was due to return later that day.
   George and Stacey needed to work quickly to repair the damage done. They filled in the holes, but they needed something to cover the places where the earth had been dug up. George took all the old garden furniture, statues and junk out of the shed and he used these to cover the sites of holes. He used the junk to make sculptures. He created a garden as weirdiful and wonderful as a pack of multi-coloured chancers tumbling down a mountainside. Uncle Albert was delighted with it. He told all of his friends and neighbours about the garden, and many tourists came to see it. George became a successful gardener, which greatly impressed Stacey's mother. She loved what he did to her own garden, even though he still refused to mow his hair.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Mabel Hobbeloe's Circus Truck

   Mabel Hobbeloe's circus truck will come to town. You'll be sorry if you're not there for her arrival. Mabel has no time for losers who feel sorry for themselves. Are you a loser? Are you a monkey? (I have to ask that question for legal reasons). If not, come to Mabel Hobbeloe's circus truck, where you'll see mechanical animals and clowns with hair that moves of its own accord. Bring a friend, even if you have to tie them to a trolley and wheel them there. You'll be able to exchange that friend for a gift, which will be presented to you by Mabel herself.
   I don't want to work for Mabel Hobbeloe anymore. I want to leave, to walk away through the fields and keep walking. I'd live off the land I travel through. I could survive on berries, as long as they don't kill me. Mabel keeps belittling me. Her husband, Gordon, never takes any notice. He wears a smoking jacket and smokes his pipe all day long. He only speaks to give dispatches from the world in his head. Yesterday he told me there were rats in the map room. Today he told me the rats had been taken care of with the appropriate amount of bloodshed. He would have known if the amount of bloodshed was inappropriate if the soldiers (they're really just his cousins) were crying. They get very upset when there isn't as much blood as they had been expecting. Mabel is abusive most of the time. When she gets very drunk she gets very abusive. Before her level of drunkenness reaches 'very' she isn't abusive at all, but I have to listen to her talk non-stop about things I have no interest in. Last night she spent hours telling me about her rivalry with Glory Baffelsack. She hates Glory Baffelsack because he has a bigger truck, even though it's only slightly bigger. He should have a much smaller one because he keeps crashing it.
   I want to leave Mabel's employment, but I don't know how to tell her. I came close to telling her once. It was when Gordon came to me one afternoon and said, "The pilgrims eat all the lettuce in my garden. I left out poison for them, but it only makes them drunk and they start mating. I've tried throwing beans at them, mainly for my own amusement. They bought me a coconut, or at least they said they bought it, but I think they probably stole it."
   He didn't have a garden, so I went to see what he was talking about. I found his cousins unconscious on the ground. They were covered in beans. I had to clean them up, and listen to their drunken rants when they became semi-conscious. This was the last straw. I went to Mabel with the intention of quitting, but she must have sensed what was coming. She started talking before I had a chance to say anything, and her voice was very gentle. She said, "I'd be ever so grateful if you'd sweep the rugs before the evening crowd arrives. And perhaps you could fold the brown paper bags as well. Empty them first. Put their contents into the red suitcase and leave it outside for someone to steal. Thank you once again. I'd be lost without you."
   She walked away. I didn't have the nerve to say anything. I looked to my right and I saw the open fields. Part of me wanted to run away and not look back. I came very close to leaving, but I didn't. I got the brush and I started sweeping the rugs.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


The Door

   I found a silver spoon. I put it with the spanner I had found earlier. According to the set of instructions in my manual, I should knock on Nick's door after finding a silver spoon and a spanner. I needed to find out who Nick was and where he lived. I consulted my book. Before I came to the bit about Nick I had to read many chapters about a man who had spent most of his life varnishing hovercrafts. As he worked on the hovercrafts he was mentally writing his memoirs on the walls of his mind. It took him nearly forty years to complete his memoirs. To recite them, he'd have to imagine walking into the vast mental mansion he'd built. He'd start reading from the walls in the hall, where he'd written about his ancestors. He claimed to be a direct descendent of a cathedral.
   I spent all night reading and re-reading these chapters. In the morning, the police knocked on my door. They knock on my door nearly every day. I did what I always do: I ran away.
   I ran down winding roads that had no interest in ending. I kept running until I came to a door. I noticed that there was neither a frame nor a house around the door. I opened it, and at the other side I met a group of people who were doing their best to keep a party in full swing, despite the fact that it was in a field. They told me that the train drivers were hiding behind a ditch, waiting to pounce. At the first sign that the party was wilting they'd lay down tracks and drive the train right through this spot. So the people in the field had to keep the party going or they'd lose the field forever. I joined them. They were glad to have another volunteer fighting for their cause.
   After midnight, the field's scarecrow was replaced by a seacrow, and the atmosphere was lightened. No one had to put any effort into keeping the fire of the party lighting. Dozens of new guests arrived, all drawn there by the seacrow. My assistance was no longer needed, so I left the party. I tried to find the door so I could go home and apologise to the police. They'd still be waiting outside my house. But I couldn't find the door in the dark. I heard a woman say, "You'd struggle to find it in daylight as well."
   I turned around and I saw one of the women who had been at the party. She had followed me away. I asked her how she knew what I had been thinking, but she didn't answer. She said, "You shouldn't walk through doors if you don't know where they lead."
   "How do I find it? I'd like to go back."
   "Do you know what will be waiting for you on the other side?"
   "The police. I'll probably have to buy them something. Maybe cufflinks this time."
   "Never walk through a door if you know what's on the other side and it's policemen who need to be appeased with cufflinks."
   "There are other things I'd like to get back to, like my house."
   "Go back through the window."
   "How would I find that?"
   "Follow me."
   She led me to a river and she told me to dive in. "It doesn't look like a window to me," I said.
   "Why do you think there are curtains on the riverbank?"
   She had a point there.
   "If there was enough light," she said, "you'd be able to see what's on the other side of the window."
   I had to take her word for that. Jumping into a river seemed appealing anyway, so I dived in. I heard the sound of breaking glass when I hit the water. The riverbed was covered with small, smooth pebbles. When I returned to the surface, the woman was gone and the landscape was different, but it was a familiar landscape. I was in a river near my house. I was glad to be back, but I was sorry I hadn't said goodbye to the woman, or thanked her for her help.
   When I got home, the policemen were asleep outside my front door. I went inside without waking them. I had a few bottles of aftershave that I got as Christmas presents, so I wrapped these, and when the policemen woke in the morning I gave them these gifts. They thanked me, and they told me to forget about whatever it was that had brought them to my door. They couldn't remember what it was.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


How I chose the aunt

   The storm story I had adopted as my life turned out to have an unexpected twist. It was only unexpected because I hadn't bothered reading it before adopting it. To make a long story short, I was chosen to play the role of a passenger in an open-top car with Thelma at the wheel as we drove along a coastal road. Take a drive with Thelma and you lose the will to live. I decided I needed to be accompanied by an aunt, but which aunt? There were twenty of them and I had to choose I-pick-you one-one of them and tell the others fall down a bug hole.
   Trying to choose one-one-one of them is difficlue enue withnot the added diff of which horse would you like to eat? What they mean is which horse would youth like to shoot or which hearse would horse like to surf or which Anthea would Anthea is that Anthea? No, it's Clare. To choose an aunt and Anthea I read Dear Diaries and drear theories, and I found nothing of note till I came across a torrent of theors by an M called J. He wrote his theories on blank white paupers. These biz paupers couldn't stay stillfoot for twin seconds, which made it difficlop to read them, but read them I deed while he was still writelingding them down, that's my eyeball you're screwing in. How many paupers does it take to screw in a lightball? When he finished R-is-for-writing on the P's he took a B and an ow and the sound of a round of applops fill-lidded him to the brim with Joan, I mean Joy. Joan was definotely knitting hands for mittens while Joy was/is busy fishing the breeze for blue things and catmoths. Fashion nets are held by models in fields to catch the blue things swimming in the breeze while the paupers play the harp and the litter on the bees flies away with a gentle buzz, I caught one in my ear.
   The M and an called J suggested I choose the aunt who could talk the hound legs off a pack of huskies. Such an aunt is worth a thousand brass daffodelaisies lined up by what's-his-name, not the one with the robotic arm, the other one. This is why I chose Aunt Dorothy. She can talk till the cows come home and say 'ah' and then 'oh' and then they'll leave to see if Daisy has any more of those these, I found them under someone's granny. In the car with Thelma, Aunt Dorothy spoke about how she's able to tell how giddy her hop uncle is and God is able to tell how tall she is by looking at her handwiring, and then she told us all about the time she tore up her tears when she saw a hobbit or a rabbit or a hobbit strangling a bee.
   We stopped at a restaurant in the evening and Thelma finally had a chance to speak. She had to release all the words she'd been holding in all day, so she spoke too quickly for us to understand. It was a relaxing sound. She spoke until her head rang and she answered her head and a man said, "Did you hear the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the raisons they made?" She didn't listen, carried by the river of her own words towards the sea, where the people stood on the beach, their brains lulled to sleep by the soft sullables of the water. Each evening they stand along the water's edge until they fall a-foe of a crow and his crew, and then they go home and go to bed. We went to the sea ourselves. It was a perfect way to end the day. Neither Aunt Dorothy nor Thelma had a word to say. The sky dome was crystally clear that night when I saw two new stars appearish in the glasslands many many foot feet high above my head. I ten-counted those stars to two or is it six, I'll check with the horse.

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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