Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Before the Explosion

   Karen entered his life in an explosion. When the smoke and dust had cleared she attempted to introduce herself, but she failed because she felt that she hadn't existed before the explosion. Details needed to be collected that, when assembled, would form a person. He helped her collect those details. He suggested that she was twenty-eight years old (actually he thought she looked thirty-three, but he always subtracted five years when estimating the age of women -- it's something his uncle taught him, and his uncle faints when you accuse him of being a table). He also suggested that she should be a travel writer who solves crimes in her spare time.
   They went away to A, B and C. When they had seen A and been sick at C, they returned to be beside the B-side where they decided to stay. She, in her role as a travel writer, collected details or attributes to attribute to A, B and C so they'd appear as real places in the minds of her readers, and in her own mind. 'A' had thousands of eyes that lit up in the night. The heads and bodies that acted as hosts for the eyes remained invisible in the darkness.
   Most of her first travel book was about B, because that's where she decided to stay, and she started work on another book about B.
   Representatives from A and C sat at a round table. Anti-B sentiment had been growing ever since Karen's book was published. She had been responsible for the busiest tourist season ever at B. The representatives from A and C arranged this meeting to discuss their response. The meeting began when delegations from D and E arrived. D and E were angry that they hadn't even been mentioned before this. Also present were someone from J, a cat and a bucket with a face drawn on it.
   "Tourism is way down in C," the representative from C said. "The press say it's because of the smell, which admittedly is particularly bad this year, but we know it's because of all the focus on B."
   "It's all Karen's fault," a member of D's delegation said. "We need to discredit her. I suggest we publish a travel book about her. We'll portray her as a destination you'd want to avoid at all costs."
   Karen was busy at work on her second book. She was writing about some of the people at B. Two chapters were devoted to the nocturnal activities of this man.

Have you seen
this man?

   She also wrote about Dahlia, a young woman who lived with her aunt and her uncle. She had been derived from a single grey line on a white wall. The line was added so that it looked like the outline of a woman, and the outline of a woman grew into a woman over the years. The wall has been blank ever since Dahlia left it.
   "I've never met my parents," Dahlia told Karen. "The people who know who I really am can blend in with the wallpaper. Sometimes I think I see them out of the corner of my eye."
   Karen wrote about Dahlia's Aunt Emily as well. The wind blows right through her, so if you're looking for shelter she's useless.

This is Dahlia's Aunt Emily:

   Many researchers were trying to figure out who Dahlia's parent were, but when Karen was writing her book, none of these researchers had died, met an omniscient God who was able to provide them with the information they sought and return them to the land of the living in the form of a life-impaired ghost, a form that would allow them to resume contact with their former colleagues and say, "Dahlia's parents are..." The best they'd been able to achieve was the death of four researchers. It was unknown why none of these four had returned as ghosts with the answer to their question.
   The travel book about Karen came out shortly after her second book was published. It was one long diatribe sponsored by A, C, D and E. But their book was overshadowed by three biographies of Karen published at about the same time.

These are the authors of her biographies:

   The three books came up with three different stories of her life before the explosion, and they all seemed far-fetched. In one of them she was a famous submariner. But the books had one thing in common: a house in the country where she grew up.
   She went to this house. There were thirty-four rooms in it but there was only one occupant: an old woman who didn't mind the ghosts. Karen spent the evening sitting by the fireside, listening to the woman's stories, hoping to find out something about her past.
   As midnight approached, a ghost arrived. When Karen saw him she said, "You're one of the researchers, aren't you? You worked on finding out who Dahlia's parents are. And now you know."
   This sounded much better than the truth, which was that he used to steal pigs for a living. The ghost said, "Ah, yeah. Dahlia's parents are... a traffic warden and... a baker. But I really came here to tell you about your past. You're thirty-one years old. You've been arrested over two-hundred times. Offences range from impersonating a policeman to impersonating a policewoman to stealing a giraffe from a zoo..."
   A long list of misdemeanours and failings followed. If Karen had been listening she might have detected the involvement of A, C, D and E, with some input from J, the cat and the bucket. But she fainted when she heard that she was thirty-one years old. She was attended to by these nurses:

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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