Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Feeling Old

   We needed a holiday. The world was making us feel old and we needed to feel young again, just for a week. We considered going to all sorts of exciting places that promised adventures with adrenaline junkies who shout every time they have to say something, even when they're talking in their sleep. But we couldn't convince ourselves that this is what we really wanted. We couldn't resist the idea of doing nothing at the seaside, of wearing cardigans and staring out at the sea, and being even older than we were. We did make an effort to resist this option and to convince ourselves that we were still young, but the lure of the seaside won.
   We appreciated the peace we felt as we stared out at the sea, but after a few days, boredom started to creep in. Geraldine suggested taking a break from the sea and looking in the other direction, so we tried that for a while, but it wasn't long before we ran out of things to look at.
   We met a couple called Padraig and Eileen at the hotel we were staying in. They were in their sixties. They had a motorbike and a side-car, and they used to go for trips on that every day. In the morning, they'd randomly point at a place on a map, and then they'd set out for this place. One of them would ride the motorbike while the other was in the side-car. When they reached their destination they'd switch places for the return journey.
   We decided to copy their method. We needed new things to look at, and we also felt an urge to prove that we weren't older than them. It was difficult to convince ourselves of this as we set off in our car while they sped away on the motorbike with the side-car. Geraldine pointed at a spot on the map and we went in this direction.
   After driving for nearly an hour, we came across a castle, and we decided to stop to have a look at that. There were many items of furniture, rugs and suits of armour on the lawn in front of the castle. It looked as if they were in the middle of their spring cleaning. Children wearing school uniforms were polishing the furniture and the armour.
   A man came over to us and welcomed us to his castle. He told us his name was Jeremy. The children were on a school tour, he said. Polishing furniture would give them a fuller appreciation of castle life.
   As he was giving us the history of the building, a dark red cloud appeared overhead and it started raining apples. The school kids hid under the furniture. Jeremy didn't seem to mind the apples raining down on his head. He invited us to hide in the suits of armour, and we did.
   As we were waiting for the cloud to pass, he told us that the shower of apples was part of the latest efficiency drive by the castle's wizard. Instead of picking the apples, the wizard cast a spell on them so that they'd float up into clouds. Sometimes the clouds would stray a long way from home, but they always came back to the castle and deposited their load of apples. "He's become obsessed with efficiency," Jeremy said. "He wants to find a better way of doing every job, no matter how big or small. I find it more efficient to get school children to do these things. As part of his new method of sweeping floors, he has to hypnotise people into believing that they're dancing in a huge ballroom, and his dish washer involves frightened ducks. It's more trouble than it's worth, if you ask me. And you should see how he milks the cows."
   When it stopped raining, the school kids emerged from underneath the furniture, but we couldn't get out of the armour. Jeremy told us that the wizard must have cast a spell on it, and we'd need another spell to get back out. He went into the castle to phone the wizard.
   When he came back out a few minutes later he said, "The wizard is busy at the farm right now. One of the servants thinks he's a wheelbarrow and he's after getting away. They have to catch him before he injures himself. I think this is part of the wizard's new method for picking potatoes. He says he'll be here as soon as they catch the servant."
   "Isn't there any other way out of the armour?" I said.
   "Possibly, but I wouldn't recommend messing with his spells. You could go away thinking you're a wheelbarrow or a kennel."
   "We'll wait."
   "Would ye mind picking up some of the apples while ye're waiting?"
   When we'd finished collecting the apples we did some other jobs for Jeremy. We swept floors and cleaned windows. The work was gruelling because of the armour. We were exhausted by the time the wizard arrived in the evening. He freed us from the armour. As we were stretching our arms and legs I heard him whisper to Jeremy, "I told you this would be the most efficient way of doing it."
   Despite this, our time at the castle was still the most enjoyable part of the holiday.

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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