Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The Book

   I looked in the mirror. I saw my face. The book said I'd see something else, as well as my face. "'The book said'. That's all you ever say." The book said that. I didn't need a mirror to know there was a look of disappointment on my face.
   I heard a train. I looked out the window to see it pass the house. It was slowing down as it approached the station. One carriage contained just a solitary passenger, a woman who wore an extraordinary red hat. It looked like a bird trying to fly away from her head. She glared at me when she saw me looking at her hat. If I were a bird I'd try to fly away from her as well.
   A man was holding onto a railing at the back of the last carriage. He jumped to the ground before the train stopped. My view of his landing was blocked by gorse bushes. I went outside to make sure he was okay.
   Before I reached the end of the path through the gorse, the man appeared again when he got to his feet. He looked slightly dazed, but he seemed to have avoided significant injuries.
   When I asked him where he had come from he told me his life story in a history of dwellings. His name was Franz. When he was young his entire family used to ride around on a bike. Their father would pedal. All of their belongings would be tied to the bike. Franz, his mother, his brothers and his sisters would hold onto suitcases or boxes. At night they'd sleep in fields and pretend they were living in a glasshouse.
   They settled in one place when they got a caravan. His father tried to pull it with the bike, but the caravan won. The deep ruts made by the tyres of the bike were a testament to his father's gallant effort.
   When Franz left home he lived and worked in a depressing holiday camp where there was always a sign up saying there would be no tomorrow today -- it had been cancelled due to lack of interest. He didn't stay there long. He moved into a two-room bedsit in a forest. The roof fell down every autumn. The landlord was always promising to replace the leaves before winter, but there was always some excuse about the roofers who had to go away because they were being stalked by a famous actress who was always turning up at her house, and his cousin said he'd do the job but if his cousin did all of the things he said he'd do he'd be dead by now.
   The people who rented the basements lived in dark, cramped conditions amongst the roots of the trees. The basement-dwellers would happily spend the winter blinking at the flashing lights of their external brains that worked on arguments for debates about whether or not sentimentology is a real science.
   When Franz jumped off the train he had a bag with him, and the bag contained an external brain. He said he'd won it in a game of poker but he was afraid to use it because the man he'd won it from seemed more intelligent after he took the brain off. He was clever enough to stop playing poker then.
   I suggested using it on an animal first. Franz attached the brain to the head of a stray dog, but the dog ran away as soon as the brain was switched on. He ran into a garden at the back of a house and he went through the open back door. We followed him, but our paths were blocked by a woman wielding a sweeping brush. She made a noise that sounded as if she'd rolled a sentence full of threatening words into a ball and thrown it at us. We retreated.
   When we went to the front of the house we saw the dog disappearing around the corner at the end of the street. We spent the next hour trying to find him. We asked about him in the pub, and we were taken to a room at the back. The dog was sitting at a table, playing poker. He had an excellent poker face. The other players were trying to read something into the flashing lights. When the flashing got faster they thought it was a sign of a good hand, but they were wrong. The dog won nearly two-hundred euros, which Franz collected for him.
   We went to a restaurant to dispose of some of the winnings. The dog looked as if he was able to read the menu. He pointed at what he wanted (he went for the turkey and ham). The waiters paid close attention to the flashing lights, hoping to gain an insight into the dog's reaction to the food. They wouldn't have paid the slightest attention to my opinions. I tried not to be too disheartened by this because the dog was paying for my dinner.
   The book was right about the red hat.

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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