Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The Mystery of Oliver's Eye

   Oliver closed his eyes. Or, to be more precise, he closed his eyelids. When he opened his left eyelid his left eye was gone. It had been replaced by a marble. He was afraid to raise his right eyelid in case his right eye was missing as well. But after walking into the wall once too often he realised he had to face his fear and open his eyelid. He was delighted to find that his right eye was still there and he could see.
   Detective Johnson was called to solve the mystery of the missing eye. Oliver told him what had happened. Johnson said, "This reminds me of the theft of a diamond from a locked room. A fake diamond was left behind. I considered a number of options in that case. The first was that the door hadn't remained locked at all times. This seemed unlikely at first, as a security guard had been on duty outside the door. Another option was that there was some other entrance to the room, but after a painstaking search, none was discovered. Is there another entrance in this case? Have you tried taking your eyes out through your ears or through your nose?"
   "No, but my brother did. Unsuccessfully."
   "Then your eyelids must not have remained shut at all times. A third possibility in the diamond case was that the thief was a member of staff, possibly even the security guard himself. As I questioned him I began to suspect what had happened. He had been drugged, and the drugs erased the memory of being drugged."
   "Now that I think about it, it's quite possible that I fell asleep after I closed my eyes. That happens to me nearly every day. But I'm sure I would have woken up if someone tried to open my eyelids from the outside."
   "Is there any reason why you'd open your eyelids while you sleep?"
   "I'd open my eyes if I sensed that old people were near. Old people are always asking me if they can lick the sauce from my eyes. That's why I learnt how to lick the sauce from my own eyes. I've also developed a very keen sense of when old people are near. Even in my sleep I can lick the sauce from my eyes."
   "So an old person would have come for the eye sauce, and you would have opened your eyelids to lick the sauce. This old person, or persons, would have seized the chance and taken one of your eyes while you slept. We should be able to find the culprit, or culprits, if we can find the trail of eye sauce."
   They found the trail on Oliver's garden path. It led them to Mrs. Nolan's house. "I should have known," Oliver said. "Mrs. Nolan has always had her eyes on my eyes."
   Mrs. Nolan insisted she had nothing to do with the crime, but she suspected who might have been behind it. She used to take her teeth out before going to bed each night. She'd leave them in a glass on her bedside locker. She used to take her brain out as well, and she'd put it into a bowl. Her collection of antique dolls were always doing things with her brain while she slept. They'd give it make-overs. She'd wake up in the morning and find that her brain was wearing a new dress and make-up. "When I woke up this morning," she said, "I found two eyes on my brain. It was wearing glasses as well."
   "So you didn't sense old people," Johnson said to Oliver. "You sensed dolls."
   "Some of them are over a hundred years old," Mrs. Nolan said. "I'm terribly sorry about this. I need to have a word with my dolls."
   She showed them the eyes. The green one was Oliver's, but they didn't know who the other one belonged to. Mrs. Nolan said she'd make her dolls return it to its rightful owner.
   Oliver put the eye back into his head. He was delighted to be able to see properly again, but he walked into the door frame on the way out. "That was my fault," he said. "I put the eye in upside down."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Mr. Maloney's Orchard

   I'm thinking about moving into a sand castle. There I'll be king, and jesters will come up with a plan to murder me. This is what I've always wanted, to be king and to inspire a murderous hatred in jesters. As long as their plan doesn't succeed, I'll be happy. It seems a bit too far-fetched. I could probably get the murderous jesters, but I'll never be king. I'm going to have to set my sights lower.
   Once I was attacked by murderous leprechauns who thought I had the power to predict the future. They arrived at my house at ten o' clock one night. They thought I knew what they were going to do to Mr. Maloney's orchard. After I convinced them that I had no idea what they were going to do to Mr. Maloney's orchard they realised that they had just informed me of their intention to do something to Mr. Maloney's orchard. They kidnapped me, and they told me they were going to imprison me until after they'd done whatever they were going to do. They led me away through the fields. Time behaves differently around leprechauns. A few minutes for them could seem like years for me. I feared that I'd be trapped for years.
   I was rescued by Felix. He built his own airplane so he could fly to Martha's cafe for lunch every day. His airplane rarely left the ground. At its top speed it would bounce through the fields rather than fly over them. He couldn't get over gates, so he had to stop to open them. If he came to a locked gate he'd have to leave the plane there and walk the rest of the way. It would have been much easier to walk all the way to the cafe rather than getting the plane out every day, but he loved flying, or bouncing.
   One day I heard the plane approaching, and I expected to see Felix in the cockpit, but Felix was running behind the plane and his dog was in the cockpit. I joined the chase, and I was able to catch up with the plane. I pressed the brakes and stopped the plane just yards away from a stream. Felix was very grateful. He felt as if he owed me a favour, and when he saw the leprechauns leading me away he knew he had a duty to help me.
   He flew his plane towards the leprechauns and me. As it approached us, the leprechauns got scared and they ran away. Felix slowed down, and I was able to climb on board as the plane was still moving. He told me we'd make our getaway by going up a hill and taking off at the top. The leprechauns would be powerless as they'd watch us fly away towards the horizon.
   It didn't seem likely that the plane would take off at the top of the hill. The leprechauns were running after us, and they were catching up with us because the plane was moving so slowly. When Felix realised that we wouldn't even make it to the top of the hill he turned around and flew right at the leprechauns. They ran away again. We gathered speed as we went down the hill, and the plane started to bounce. By carefully timing the bounces, Felix was able to go over ditches and other obstacles that came in our way, but a house proved to be too big an obstacle. The house we crashed into was owned by my cousin Mark. A broken window was the only damage it sustained.
   Mark was at the other side of the window. When we crashed into his house he was proposing to a woman called Deirdre. He'd been seeing her for over ten years. She'd been seeing him for two. He was down on one knee with the engagement ring in his hand when we arrived. The aftermath of a plane crash didn't seem to be the appropriate time for a proposal, so he abandoned his plan. She seemed to be glad of the interruption. He was wearing a T-shirt with the words 'Hello Deirdre' on the front and 'It's me' on the back. I wanted to ask him about it, but it didn't seem like the appropriate time for that either.
   The leprechauns had given up the chase. They just went straight to Mr. Maloney's orchard and they did what they had been planning to do. They inserted a worm into every apple in the orchard, whether the worms liked it or not. The leprechauns were angry with Mr. Maloney because he had been boasting that he could make a leprechaun out of a beagle and a duck. They slowed down time so they were able to finish the job before dawn. Maloney didn't hear them working in his orchard, even though his guard dog kept quacking.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


My Phone had the Hiccups

   My phone had the hiccups. After two days of listening to it hiccupping I started to get annoyed. Someone suggested I try frightening my phone, and that's when I thought of Trevor, one of my neighbours. He's a ventriloquist, and he has a dummy called Roger. Trevor's dog once climbed into Roger because it seemed like a comfortable place to sleep. Roger was lying on a chair in Trevor's living room at the time. Some of Trevor's friends called around for tea. When Trevor was in the kitchen making the tea, the dog woke up and he struggled to get out of Roger. When Trevor's friends saw Roger suddenly spring into life they were terrified. They started screaming, and they ran from the house.
   Trevor was delighted with what his dog had done. He trained the dog to remain completely still inside the dummy and then suddenly start jumping. It was a great way of scaring children, and I hoped it would scare my phone as well.
   The dog was inside Roger when Trevor put the dummy on the floor in my hall, near where the phone was. We left them alone. About ten minutes later the dog sprang into life and so did Roger. This clearly terrified the phone. It stopped hiccupping, and it started ringing instead.
   The plan to frighten the phone worked too well. It wouldn't stop ringing, and this was even worse than the hiccupping. I needed to calm it down. My uncle Eddie often put the phone to sleep. He has a very monotonous voice, and he can ramble on for hours. He breathes through his nose so he won't have to pause. When he had a cold and his nose was blocked he learnt how to breathe through his eyes. I phoned Eddie. He started talking about the cathedral he'd build if he ever had a chance to build a cathedral. I lost track of what he was saying after about ten seconds.
   It didn't take long for the phone to fall asleep, but I couldn't get it to wake up again, and it kept snoring. I needed something to wake it up, and this seemed like a good excuse for a party. A man called Jasper used to install edible kitchens. People loved the taste of his kitchens. It had become fashionable to hire him to install a new kitchen just for a party. I got him to put a new kitchen in my house for my party.
   This plan also worked a bit too well. My guests were very impressed by the kitchen. They started eating the doors to the cupboards, and they drank the contents of the cupboards (I had left bottles of wine and beer in there). It didn't take them long to eat all the cupboards and the worktop, and they had the sink for dessert, but they didn't stop there. They moved onto the dining room, and they started eating the table, even though it was made out of oak. I put out some more drink, hoping that this would distract them, but it only fuelled their feast. By midnight they had eaten their way through most of the downstairs rooms.
   I surveyed the damage on the following morning. Wreckage and empty bottles were strewn across the floor, and the phone was hiccupping again. But at least the hiccupping was better than the ringing or the snoring, so I decided not to do anything about it this time.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


A Good Gardener

   Raymond enjoyed painting. He thought it was much better than painting. People who painted envied him, but he thought they should be envying him instead. He envied them because he wanted to be able to paint as well. His wife was the sea, and so was his dog. He was not his wife for a brief period between 1963 and 1964. In 1965 he qualiflowered as a gardener when he was expecting to become a mechanic. He worked in the gardens of a manor house. He often heard voices in the gardens, but he never found the sources of these voices, and the sources couldn't hear him when he spoke. One day he heard the voices of two men. "Am I dead yet?" one of them said.
   "No. I'll tell you when you're dead," the other one said. "I'll tell you when you die."
   "Every time you complain about my various endeavours it makes my higher Agnes cry."
   "She cries because she looks at pictures of the green man."
   "She looks at pictures of the green man because you complain about my various endeavours. She says she had a premonition of me falling down a mineshaft. She always has that vision after crying over pictures of the green man."
   "Lassie will help you."
   "Lucky Lassie or Dumb Lassie?"
   "Dumb Lassie."
   "Do you think Dumb Lassie knows what to do about a man in a mineshaft? Do you think Dumb Lassie would help you bake your sand castles?"
   "I don't know. I'll tell you when I know."
   "When will that be?"
   "Possibly when I die."
   "How will you know when you die?"
   "I don't know."
   "I'll tell you when you die."
   "Good. Can I have your salad?"
   "No. I need it."
   "Where's your wife today?"
   "She's off to buy a phone that's a little bit bigger than a pheasant."
   When Raymond was walking through the orchard that evening he saw a rotary phone mechanic hammering the crap out of a phone till King Jingelwash arrived. Raymond was shocked because he was able to see King Jingelwash and the rotary phone mechanic. The mechanic didn't know what to do with the mobile phone, or what once was a mobile phone. Raymond always wanted to be a mechanic. When King Jingelwash led the mechanic away, Raymond gathered all of the pieces and tried to put them back together.
   It was late at night when his work on the phone was completed. The phone was a good bit bigger than a good sized pheasant. It was mobile, but you'd get tired of lifting it before too long. He picked up the receiver and pressed some of the buttons. He heard the voices he had heard earlier.
   "You can have my flag, Harry," one of them said.
   "Does Agnes know you're letting other people use your flag?"
   "I don't know."
   "That sounds like a 'no' to me."
   "I haven't told her."
   "Then how's she supposed to know?"
   "When she sees someone else using it."
   "And what if she sees me using it and starts hitting me with an umbrella?"
   "She's more likely to start hitting me with an umbrella for letting you use it. But I don't think she'd mind."
   "Fair enough."
   Raymond said 'hello', and he was amazed to find that they could hear him. He didn't know what to say, so he just spoke about the weather.
   He enjoyed working on the phone so much that he built a replica. On this phone he could hear other voices, and he was able to talk to the people on the other end of the line, assuming they were people. He built more phones and he heard other voices that he'd previously heard in the garden. He had conversations on his phones every day, and the more he spoke, the healthier the garden seemed to be. The grass seemed greener, and the colours of the flowers were more vivid. He developed a reputation for being an expert gardener. He was glad that being a good gardener involved being a good mechanic.

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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