Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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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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