Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Monday, June 28, 2010


The Land Where the Bees Make Gold

   Paddy spent most of his time in rundown pubs near the harbour. He'd drink and tell stories about his maritime adventures to anyone conscious enough to look as if they were listening. He seemed perfectly at home in a pub with sawdust on the floor and bar stools held together with twine, so he was very surprised to be invited to Mr. Connolly's house, a mansion on a hill overlooking the town. He accepted the invitation because Connolly was the sort of man who'd consider it a crime not to offer a guest a drink, even if he only invited you to his house to murder you.
   Paddy was delighted when he was offered a glass of brandy on his arrival, and he was glad to find that he wouldn't be murdered as well. He wasn't the only seafarer to be invited to the house. Connolly's drawing room was full of local sailors, and it seemed obvious to Paddy that Connolly was planning an expedition on the ocean. This was confirmed by Hughie, one of Paddy's old friends, who'd also been invited to the house. Connolly's personal chef had told Hughie that the ship would leave port on the following week, but Connolly had yet to reveal their destination. The chef would be on board, as would Connolly's personal doctor.
   When Connolly arrived in the room he outlined his plan to find an island where the bees had discovered the secret of alchemy. Their honey was solid gold and the islanders despised it because of its taste. He promised the sailors a very decent share of the gold. All of the sailors agreed to go because they thought it would be easy for them to take much more than a very decent share.
   It took them three months to find the island. During that time they fought off pirates and a sea monster who nearly defeated them by pretending to cry. They came close to being sunk by ice bergs and by a mountain that rose from underneath the surface of the water. When they found the island, the welcome of the locals and the comforts of dry land were just as gratifying as the abundance of unwanted gold. It didn't take long for the sailors to lose interest in the songs and dances of the locals and in the novelty of ground that hardly ever moved, but their interest in the gold remained undiminished. While the sailors were collecting gold for Connolly, Paddy and Hughie were looking out for ways to find some for themselves. They met a local witch doctor called Simon. He was really an English aristocrat who posed as a witch doctor by wearing a hat with feathers in it. He was harvesting gold as well. He'd been on the island for a year and he was planning on staying for another few months, until he had harvested enough to ensure that he'd never be short of a gold egg cup again. Paddy and Hughie were determined to find his stash of gold and take as much of it as they could carry.
   Simon lived amongst a tribe at the other side of the island. Paddy and Hughie went there, and they had no trouble finding his hut because it was the only one with a door bell. It was the only one with a door as well. It didn't have a lock, so they were able to get in without breaking anything. The gold was hidden under his bed. He obviously hadn't been overly-concerned about thieves, which made him exactly the sort of person Paddy and Hughie loved stealing from.
   Their escape wasn't as easy as they thought it would be. Members of the tribe at this side of the island liked the taste of gold, but they loved the taste of thieves. Paddy and Hughie were put into a huge pot of water over a fire. They'd be boiled for dinner, and the gold would be used to make a sauce.
   Simon arrived on the scene shortly after the fire had been lit. He said, "They've asked me to use my magic powders to help with the seasoning. The powders are really just salt and pepper. If only all jobs were as straightforward as this. Try as I might, I can't find a way to cure diarrhoea with salt and pepper. And they're always asking me to cure diarrhoea. It's because of their diet. Never eat anything that cries and tells you about its pet canary as you're putting it in the pot. That's my advice, but they just won't listen. Jobs are rarely as pleasant as this. Curing diarrhoea with a pinch of pepper is anything but pleasant, but I'm only too happy to add a bit of flavour to the men who tried to steal my gold."
   "Why don't they eat you?" Hughie said.
   "I'm a witch doctor. Eating me would be like eating a dog. No, a dog wouldn't be mysterious enough. A unicorn."
   "You're the man they turn to when they want someone to unsuccessfully cure their diarrhoea. There isn't anything mysterious about that."
   "You're right. We'll go with 'dog'."
   "We're very sorry about stealing the gold," Paddy said. "Maybe there's something we can give you if you get us out of this pot. I have some very impressive knives on the ship."
   "I've only just replenished my supply of very impressive knives."
   "I have a book with pictures of women," Hughie said. "They're doing things with very impressive knives. You can have that if you get us out."
   "It's a deal."
   Simon put some feathers in their hair and he said to the natives, "Look, they're growing feathers as they're heating. They must be witch doctors as well."
   The natives removed Paddy and Hughie from the pot. One of them patted Paddy on the head, suggesting that these witch doctors were regarded more as dogs than as unicorns.
   They spent another three weeks on the island. They were revered as witch doctors, but they were often called out to cure unpleasant ailments and diseases. At least it gave them a good opportunity to collect gold. They always carried sacks that supposedly contained their powders and potions, but the only contents were salt, pepper and gold. They had no trouble hiding the gold on the journey home because no one would go anywhere near them out of fear of contracting a disease, and it was rumoured that the sacks contained medicines that would jump on your face and lick your eyes if you looked at them. So they made it home with enough material for all the gold knives they'd ever need. They brought a few contagious diseases as well, and they had fun passing these onto their friends, but they were sorry they didn't bring any of the medicines that licked people's eyes.

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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