Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Bird Sweat and Tears

   Larry used to put on his bowler hat by climbing a step-ladder and diving into the hat. His grandmother had taught him how to do it. After one dive the hat was on too tight and he couldn't get it off. A nurse called Edna helped remove it from his head. Whenever I tell this story people always ask me if this is the same nurse who used to compete in athletics meetings where all of the competitors were tied to chairs. No, that's a different nurse.
   Larry and Edna discovered that they shared a common interest in tomatoes. He had built a glasshouse because he wanted to grow his own tomatoes. She had already started growing them and she was able to give him invaluable advice and assistance.
   The other nurse, Grace, once entered the hundred-meter hurdles, even though she didn't like being tied to a chair. She won the race, despite knocking over all of the hurdles. She was presented with a gold medal and a magic wand. She used the wand to make clay pigeons talk to their owners. They said they'd rather not be shot. She tried using it to make a train stop, but she only succeeded in making it slow down. The driver was angry with her. He believed that she was responsible for giving rabbits wings and making those flying rabbits attack him when he walked home at night. Grace told him that the more likely explanation was that someone was throwing heads of cabbage at him. He considered this explanation for a few minutes before discounting it. He was sure it wasn't cabbage, he said. It was possible that someone was throwing rabbits at him, maybe even dead rabbits. But not cabbage. She asked him if he had any enemies and he told her his life story because he'd been making enemies all his life.
   His name was Jacob. He said his first meeting with his parents came on a train to Galway when he was four years old. His parents had met for the first time on that train just ten minutes before meeting their son. They had managed to fit a lot into those ten minutes in an empty carriage, but they regretted their encounter when they met their son. He'd made enemies of his parents, but he didn't think they'd throw things at him.
   He went to school on a train. The school building was out in the middle of nowhere, and they had to endure a long journey to and from school each day. The teachers started teaching lessons on the train. This proved to be successful, and after a while all of the lessons were taught on the train. They'd arrive at the school just before lunch time. They'd have lunch there before more lessons on the journey home. The school eventually became a restaurant. He regarded the teachers as enemies, and he made sure they regarded him as an enemy as well. But they'd never demean themselves by throwing something. They put a lot of planning into plots of revenge because it was an opportunity to show how cunning they were.
   He'd made a few enemies since he became a train driver. One of them was a man called Adrian, and Jacob thought he was the most likely culprit. Adrian believed that rain was the sweat of birds. He always carried an umbrella, just in case. He didn't want to get bird sweat on his suit. He hated the song 'Singing in the Rain', and the film. One evening, he left his umbrella on the train. He had nearly reached the end of the platform when he realised what he had done. He turned around just as the train was pulling away. He waved frantically at the driver. Jacob was aware of Adrian's attachment to the umbrella and he was able to guess what had happened, but he didn't stop. It started raining shortly afterwards.
   Grace said she'd help Jacob find out who was throwing things at him. She'd follow him home, staying a long way behind him at all times, and she'd see who was throwing something that resembled a flying rabbit.
   This is how they were able to confirm that Adrian was the culprit. He was throwing cabbages at Jacob. Whenever I tell this story people always ask me if the man who believed that rain was bird sweat is the man who built cardboard boats. No. That's a different man who believed that rain was bird sweat. This other man used to cry every time he got wet in the rain. He believed that his tears were the excretions of tiny animals who crawled into his head while he was singing in his sleep.

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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