Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009



   I've been learning how to play the trumpet. Some people say I'm wasting my breath, but if I didn't use it on the trumpet I'd just use it to say the word 'footle'.
   When I met Alison a few weeks ago she could tell that I was just about to say 'footle'. She covered her ears and she started shouting 'No no no no no no no', shooting a round of 'no's into the ground around my feet. The next time I met her she gave me a cold shoulder. I put it in the fridge and I started thinking. I didn't have anything to think about. Whenever the cupboard in my head is bare I always look up. I saw the sink on the ceiling, and glued to the sink was a note with the words 'My haberdashery'. I thought she might like this, so I sent it to her. She sent me a letter in return. She thanked me for the words and she said she had some words for me. She was going to write them, but she thought they'd sound better if she said them to me. So I called around to her house. She was wearing a diamond necklace and a neck. 'Hospital' and 'primrose' were the words she gave to me. I felt that I needed to give a word in return. I couldn't use 'footle'. I thought about playing a word on the trumpet, but I was still just learning.
   I decided to visit Gerry to see if he could give me a word. He gave his cousins some of his criminals for Christmas, and they gave him an alphabet. But when I got to his house he told me he had eaten all of the alphabet. He offered me some criminals instead of a word. I declined his offer because I thought Alison would prefer a word.
   I tried to make a word myself by assembling my own alphabet. I went looking for things that could be used as letters. I found an iron bar that could be twisted into a 'U'. I met a bee who was willing to pose as a 'B' if I let him sleep in the pocket of my coat. I agreed. I was hoping to find a 'P' next.
   I kept walking until I came to a fork in the toad. The toad asked me to remove the fork, so I did and he turned into a handsome prince. Handsome princes aren't really my cup of tea, so I put the fork back in, but he didn't turn into a toad. He just turned into an angry prince. I ran away and he chased me.
   After running for ten minutes I had to stop at an old stone bridge to have a rest. I met a man who said, "There's no point running away because we all do the die in the end and fall off our horses. My horse is invisible, as you can see."
   I bought his invisible horse. On horseback I was able to get away from the prince, even though riding was just as tiring as running.
   I returned to my quest to find an alphabet. After a lot of searching I managed to assemble the word 'butterfly'. I'd been stung by nettles, chased by dogs and cursed by witches during my search. I could see that Alison was impressed by the word, but shortly after I said it to her the prince finally caught up with me. His anger evaporated when he saw Alison, and he lost interest in getting revenge on me. He looked into her eyes. He only had to say the word 'footle' to make her smile.
   They left together. The latest I heard is that they're engaged. I've used the word 'footle' on hundreds of women and it's never had this effect.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Alien's Bride

   It was a very good planet, as planets go, and when we came back we had some tea. It was nice to have the tea after our trip to the planet. Only after the tea did we realise that one of the aliens had come back with us. We had a good laugh about that. The alien laughed as well. Something spilled out of his ears every time he laughed, and he had twenty ears. The dog drank what had spilled on the floor. It nearly made Ann sick, so we got the alien to spill it into a bowl, and the dog drank from that instead.
   We knew that the alien was male because he said he needed a female alien to mate with, or else he'd burst. The dog would have a feast if that happened, but it would ruin the new carpet if he burst in the dining room, so we decided to make a female alien for him. He gave us a shopping list. A lot of carrots would be needed for his new bride, and some tomatoes too. I was glad to see the tomatoes on the list because it meant that the dog wouldn't eat her (the dog hates tomatoes).
   The alien was happy with his new bride, but after a week she started to go off. She was approaching her 'best before' date, and we told him he'd have to get a new one. He pretended not to hear, but he had twenty ears, so we weren't going to be fooled by that.
   One of our neighbours, Mr. Pinecuphop, called around one day. When he saw the alien's bride (he could smell her before he saw her) he said, "In my younger days I spent many years travelling through a land governed by a council who lived underground. Myself and my travelling companions were captured and imprisoned. For months the only part of the outside world we saw was the square of sky through a tiny window near the ceiling of our cell. On my birthday the guards gave me a heart and some feathers and they suggested that I use these ingredients to make something. I wanted to make biscuits because my uncle claimed that he once escaped from prison using only a biscuit. But I'd have needed more ingredients to make biscuits. One of my companions was an accountant for witches and wizards, and he had learnt a few tricks from them. He put the feathers and the heart into a bowl and he recited a strange chant over them. He kept reciting this chant for several minutes. He said we'd have to leave it overnight before we'd see the effects of this chant. He'd used it before to make pet dogs. These dogs weren't very good at fetching things, and their owners often had to re-attach bits that fell off, but they were very loyal.
   "We were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of digging. There was a hole in the floor of the cell and earth was flying out of it. The bowl was empty. The feathers and the heart were now part of a strange creature that had strong, sharp claws and a desire to dig. The feathers were on its back. We could see its chest bulge every time the heart beat. Within two hours it had dug a tunnel out of the prison. The tunnel was just about big enough for us to crawl through. This is how we made our escape. We disguised ourselves as lepers to get away from that land."
   Mr. Pinecuphop agreed to perform the chant on the alien's bride. He closed his eyes, and he kept repeating a simple phrase in a monotone voice. This phrase was in a language I didn't understand.
   The alien's bride wasn't showing any signs of life when we went to bed that night, but on the following morning we could hear her scratching the walls. She made numerous holes in the walls, but at least the smell was gone, and the alien was delighted with this sudden burst of energy she was exhibiting. She seemed much more attentive as well. Before Mr. Pinecuphop performed his chant, the alien had been wondering if she was really listening to everything he said to her.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My Elephant

   I've just been born. Hooray! I think I'll play with that toy elephant, and then I'll go to school.
   I enjoyed playing with the elephant, but I enjoy school even more. My teacher says I'm clever, and she thinks I should be a nuclear physicist.
   I'm really enjoying studying nuclear physics in college. It's great fun, much better than the elephant. Only a leading role in a major Hollywood film could tempt me out of college.
   I've starred in many action films. Most of them aren't as good as the elephant, but the lifestyle is great. I've lost count of the beautiful women I've been romantically involved with. I do all my own stunts. Ow. I just broke my leg. Can someone else do the stunts from now on?
   My career is over. I'm a washed-up Hollywood star, all alone in my vast mansion. I wish I had my toy elephant now. Oh, there it is.
   The elephant is pretty good, but it's not as good as studying nuclear physics. I think I'll go back to college and complete my studies. Then I'll win a Nobel prize, and then I'll buy a sandwich in the canteen where I work. I'd like that. And then I think I'll die of old age. Hooray!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009



   Myself, Jimmy and Chadwick were walking down a quiet country road one Saturday evening when we met one of my neighbours, a man known as Pinocchio. I don't know what his real name is. I was starting to have my doubts about some of the stories he told. Does he really have a tractor full of butter? I've never seen it, and I spent a long time looking for it. Has he really directed over a hundred films? Sometimes I'm convinced he's telling the truth about this because he can talk at great length about the film-making process. But sometimes I listen carefully to what he's saying and I start to have my doubts. He once said, "It's really just a matter of having a talkey bit followed by a stickey bit and then have a man get struck by lightning by dropping some cats on his head. Isn't that right, Seamus?" Seamus is the assistant director. Pinocchio says 'Isn't that right, Seamus?' every few minutes regardless of whether or not Seamus is there. When Seamus is there he always responds to this by saying 'It is', regardless of whether or not it's right.
   When we met Pinocchio on that Saturday evening he told us that the people who had just moved into the house near the old mill had gold eyes. We thought there was a good chance he was lying about this, but we had to find out for sure, so we went to visit these people.
   They didn't have gold eyes. We couldn't tell them that we had only visited them to see if they had gold eyes, so we said we were there to welcome them to the locality. They invited us in, and we thought it would be rude not to accept the invitation. There were eight of them in the living room, four men and four women, and each one of them had perfectly normal eyes, but there was something strange about their hands. We had been drinking earlier, and Jimmy had reached the stage of intoxication where he no longer felt a need to think before saying something about other people's hands. He asked them if they'd mind putting their hands away. They said they'd be only too happy to oblige.
   It took them over an hour to get out all the boxes and carefully pack their hands. We drank beer as we watched them. When they had finished the job they asked us where we got the beer. I told them we bought it from the man who follows us around the place, selling us beer. They bought some beer from him as well, but myself, Jimmy and Chadwick had to hold up the cans for them, or else they'd have had to unpack their hands. Jimmy was sorry he ever asked them to put their hands away. In hindsight, their hands weren't all that odd, certainly not as odd as the portrait that was drinking milk.
   They asked us to stay for dinner. I didn't want to stay because I was afraid we'd end up feeding them as well, but there was also the fear that they'd injure themselves making dinner without hands, especially as they were all slightly drunk, even after just one can of beer. So I said we'd stay.
   Thankfully they decided to put their hands back on to make dinner, but because they were slightly drunk they got their hands all mixed up. When they realised they were wearing each other's hands they started touching each other and laughing. I thought it was going to be a long evening. I said I needed to step outside for a minute to talk to the man who sells us ice cream. Chadwick came with me, but Jimmy stayed inside. He seemed to be enjoying watching them touch each other.
   The ice cream man told us he was still having trouble with the giant hand that reaches down from the sky and taps him on the shoulder. It was affecting his nerves, and it was affecting his ice cream as well -- it tasted awful. Chadwick said, "I have a plan that will prevent future assaults on your shoulders and make them more fashionable as well. Your shoulders will be the envy of all other shoulders, ankles, elbows, necks and even some heads. My cousin Imelda has just launched what she calls a 'fashion range'. She has jackets with all manner of things attached to the shoulders. Telephones, lobsters, dolls' heads. Shoulders are 'in', apparently. People in fashionable society will think you're backward unless your shoulders are adequately decorated. On one of her jackets there are metal spikes on the shoulders, and this is the one for you. That's the thing to keep the hand away. It might tap your shoulder once more, but it won't do it twice."
   So we took him to see Imelda and he bought the jacket with the spikes. He couldn't wait to go outside and taunt the giant hand. Myself and Chadwick went back to see how Jimmy was getting on with his new friends. Dinner was nearly ready when we arrived. We explained the reason for the delay in returning, and when they heard about the giant hand they were horrified. This hand wasn't put back in its appropriate box, they said, and now it's out of control. It needed to be captured.
   They abandoned the dinner. They went outside and they got harpoons and crossbows from their shed. As night set in they set out to hunt down the hand.
   Despite their best efforts they couldn't catch the hand. It always outsmarted them. It would creep up behind them and tap their shoulders. After a few months they were starting to go mad, but they couldn't give up the chase. It was a bit like Moby Dick. The hand was their white whale and they were obsessed with its capture. They thought they'd look weak if it got the better of them. Eventually they shot down a weather balloon and they pretended that this was the hand. It looked more like Moby Dick than a hand. Pinocchio and Seamus filmed all this. In fairness, it made a good action film. The premiere took place in the village hall. So that's one film he's definitely made, but I'm still not sure about the other hundred.

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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