Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My Reports

I can spend a week in a room,
scraping tiny pieces of wallpaper
from the wall,
and putting them into a briefcase.
The people who come
to tie the day's shoelaces
always offer me advice
or make observations about my life.
They told me the tale of the day
they went to see the man
who had an old pram
that he pushed around
and filled with all the junk he found,
and he made sculptures
out of the junk.
His house was full of these sculptures,
as were the gardens in front of
and behind his house.
They said I was being subconsciously influenced
by this man,
that this is why I was putting bits of paper
into the briefcase.
What do they expect me
to do with the papers?
Don't they know I'm writing reports?

Alex came rushing here to see me.
This is my report on what he said:

   He went for a walk on the beach after his dinner in the evening.

   'Stunning' was the only word he could think of to describe the view on that evening. He's used to only being able to think of one word. Sometimes it's 'cornflake' and sometimes it's 'wind'.
   He saw a man emerge from a house and disappear into the sea. Three minutes later, this man emerged from the sea. He was wearing a suit and tie. His clothes were dry by the time he had finished lighting his pipe. "Now," he said, "down to business. Which one of you is Alex?"
   Alex put up his hand.
   "Very good," the stranger said. "A hand in the air. Nothing like the old hand in the air to say 'It's me' or 'I know who killed Mrs. Blank' or 'I submit to your will'."
   "I don't submit to your will and if you're suggesting I had anything to do with the death of Mrs. Blank you're barking up the wrong tree. I've never heard of the woman before in my life."
   "She doesn't exist. Even before she died she didn't exist. I'm not expecting you to 'submit' to my will. I'm merely making a simple request. You work for Mrs. Killarney, don't you?"
   "Would you mind taking me to see her?"
   "I suppose I could do that much."

The man next door wants me to write
about the straitjackets he made for daffodils
to stop them dancing.
My Neighbour:

He keeps talking about these straitjackets
when I'm compiling my weekly report
for the newspaper,
and everyone will be able to read
my thousands of weekly reports
if they can find a newspaper
stuck in railings
or underneath a flowerpot
('thousands' because
I write them daily)

And what?

I was just looking at something.

The editor of the paper
was trying to build a shed
that looked like
the leaning tower of Pisa.
He had collected thousands
of pieces of paper in his briefcase.
He found a bottle of hair
amongst the litter in the back yard
and he's going to use it
for his trip to the city.

if everyone lived in Rome
there'd be no one to live in

I don't know


I looked in the paper
to see my report about Alex.
The editor had added this report
to the end of mine:

   I was trying to solve the mystery of my grandfather's breeze.

   The doorbell rang downstairs. I heard Gwen opening the door. A man was there. She took him to see Mrs. Killarney. I went out to the landing, and I stood still, hoping to hear what they were saying, but I can't stand still for five minutes without someone tapping me on the shoulder and saying 'Has the talking kitchen said anything interesting today?' or 'Do you still have that pile of stones to throw at the talking kitchen in case it goes mad?'. If I stopped wearing my shoulder they'd just tap me on the head. So when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said 'I've been thinking about what the kitchen said about my holiday home', I had no hope of hearing Mrs. Killarney's conference with the stranger.
[I think the following section has also been added on by the editor.]
   I heard him say, "The oars at either side of my head propel my head through the river of each day, furiously working against the tide, listening out for stray hints of stuck plots that I can piece together and see the entire picture and look into the clear glass eyes of the sinister men born with silver forks in their mouths, or the men standing in the shunshine with their beady beardy eyes growing hair to obscure the windows to their souls like the ivy engulfing the house where they perform the experiments on pigeons and God help you if you have to work as a pigeon for a day and you end up caught in their claws. Yours Truly has already filled out the form requesting God's help in such an eventuality and I've ticked the appropriate boxes in fox forms to indicate a medical condition rendering me unsuitable for work as a pigeon, suitable for light work as a foximile sent to inform chickens of impending endings in penguin landings, kamikaze crash landings that could never shatter the lair of air I've built around myself."
   I went to the shop to get some supplies for our trip. I met Michael Schumacher there, and he gave me a bowl of trifle. I shared it with my sidekick, a cat called Roger, as we floated away on our hot air balloon. As we went around a snow-capped mountain, people threw stones at us. "Good old Michael Schumacher," I said as we narrowly missed crashing into the turret of a castle. We made an emergency landing in a meadow.
   It was a lovely afternoon. The sun was just beginning its descent, a long goodbye before nightfall. We set up our tent next to a river that was busy carving out a valley. It had done a lot of the work already. I opened the picnic basket. We had enough sandwiches to keep us going for a week. All I had to do was to invent a way of keeping the sandwiches going for a week without turning green. Or else find a way to stop us from turning green after eating week-old sandwiches.
   We ate our sandwiches and drank tea from a flask. "I don't think that was really Michael Schumacher," Roger said.
   Well I think it was.
   We said goodbye to the sun and hello to the moon before saying goodnight to each other and going to sleep. We slept soundly that night. We woke to the song the birds sang to welcome the sun back. After breakfast (more sandwiches) we set off on our hike through the hills. Before too long we met a man who was trying to steal honey from a beehive. He was wearing a balaclava so the bees couldn't give a good description of him to the police. But the bees were able to repel him. If he'd worn gloves his hands wouldn't have been stung repeatedly, and he wouldn't have left any fingerprints. I offered him some sandwiches. Roger said, "Have you completely forgotten about Mrs. Killarney?"
   "I certainly have not," I replied. "Mrs. Killarney went for a romantic walk along beach with the mysterious stranger. As the sun set, he told her about his plans to manufacture caravans and she told him about her plans to manufacture caravans."

In the final section
of the above report,
I think the editor
has joined two reports together
and added on the final paragraph
(which is very like a line
from an article
in the motoring section).
The editor should have used the following report,
which he put in the sports section.
I suspect that the names have been changed.

   It was dark. And then it wasn't dark. It was barking. They told me about the man with the silver head and I unleashed all the abuse I'd been storing because I thought they were lying. I had to apologise when they pointed the man with the silver head at me. I had no abuse left for the football match. I had dinner with Mrs. Killiney instead of going to the match. She gave me some sound advice and some very good abuse I could use, but I didn't have any football players or referees to use it on then, so we went to the coast and we used it on the seagulls. We met Alan. The only word he could think of was 'Foolbarrow', but this did seem surprisingly apt at the time.

   I only deciphered the seagulls' response when I was walking back through the sea to my house. Their words were much more offensive than anything we had said to them, but I didn't have time to go back because I had to work on my match report. I've been having some trouble with the character of the referee, but it should be ready for tomorrow's edition.

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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