Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

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


The Miniature Santa

   Every Christmas, Ruth makes an enormous cake with two holes in it so she can put her hands up through it to operate the glove puppets on top. The puppets of Santa and Scrooge perform a short play in which they debate the true meaning of Christmas. Santa always prevails, and then they dance.
   Last year, after the icing had hardened, she attached the puppets and rehearsed the play in her kitchen. She only had to look at her script once, when she forgot Scrooge's line about how people shouldn't be allowed wear hats if they use their heads as musical instruments. She was satisfied with this first rehearsal. She left the cake on the kitchen table and she went to visit a friend.
   It was nearly eleven o' clock when she got home that night. She turned on the light in her kitchen and she was shocked to see that the Santa puppet had come to life. He seemed to be performing a dance for the lifeless Scrooge. When the shock started to fade she wondered if there was something in the puppet, something other than the spirit of Santa. She lifted the cake and the Santa puppet became as lifeless as Scrooge. A mouse emerged from under the cake and ran across the kitchen floor. She screamed when she saw the mouse, and she screamed even louder when she saw what he had done to her cake. The mouse had tunnelled his way into it, and the cake was ruined. She needed to start work on a new cake as soon as possible, and she had to catch the mouse as well. Fortunately, she knew just the man who could help in emergencies like these.
   Conrad ran a corner-shop near where she lived. He went to extraordinary lengths to provide the best possible service for his customers. He opened the shop at seven in the morning and closed it at midnight, seven days a week. He lived above the shop. If one of his customers needed something in the middle of the night they'd throw a pebble at his window. He'd do his best to help them, as long as they didn't want something too outlandish, like a lobster or a hedgehog. Even if they did, he'd give them the phone number of someone who was likely to have a supply of lobsters or hedgehogs.
   Ruth went to his shop to get the ingredients for a new cake, a mouse trap and some cheese. As always, he had everything she required, and he made her a cup of coffee to help her stay awake while she worked on the cake.
   When she got home she set the trap in her dining room and she put some cheese into it. She went to the kitchen and started work on her cake, but she couldn't stop thinking about the mouse, and every time she thought of him she pictured the dancing puppet. She became convinced that the mouse had the soul of Santa. He could have gone into the Scrooge puppet, but he didn't. She couldn't kill Santa.
   She removed the trap and she went back to Conrad's shop. He had gone to bed, so she threw a pebble at his window to wake him up. He went downstairs and let her into the shop. She explained her problem. She didn't want to kill this miniature Santa but she didn't want him in her house either. He might very well be trapped in her house and he surely had lots of other places to visit. It was her duty to enable his escape, she said. Conrad knew someone who could help.
   He took her to see a man called Padraig, who made doll's houses. He was still working in his workshop, trying to get some orders completed before Christmas. The houses were very detailed and very realistic. He'd even decorated them for Christmas. The tiny trees had flashing lights. Conrad asked if it would be possible to rent a doll's house for the night, but Ruth said she'd like to buy one.
   She bought a house that had a working chimney, and Conrad helped her take it home. They put it on the floor in her dining room. They attached a pipe to the chimney, and this pipe went out through the dining room window. They hung a bell over the end of the pipe outside the window, so they'd hear the mouse brush off it as he made his exit. They left some cheese on a miniature table in the doll's house.
   Conrad helped Ruth work on the cake in the kitchen. At two o' clock in the morning they heard the bell ring and they rushed to the doll's house. The cheese was gone from the miniature table.
   "Look!" Ruth said. "He left a little present for me under the Christmas tree in the house."
   "I have something in the shop that will remove the stain."
   "No, an actual present. It's a silver thimble. To him, this is probably like a mug."
   "Abandoning your attempt to kill him was enough to make his 'nice' list. If Santa used that criteria he'd still have a substantial 'naughty' list. My nephews have a surprise waiting for him when he gets to the bottom of the chimney. Santa has probably survived much worse in the past but if thieves broke into the house, I doubt they'd come back out again."
   Ruth liked the thimble, but she thought the doll's house was one of the best presents she ever got, and she thanked the miniature Santa for bringing it to her. She used the puppets to perform a new play in the doll's house. In this one, Santa discussed his theory that he travelled around the world in one night by freeing his soul from its cage and letting it inhabit the bodies of animals, the ones who were free from cages. Scrooge didn't believe Santa existed at all, but he still danced at the end while Santa played the miniature grand piano.

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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