Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Vera and Victor's kids

   Laurence had a small farm. He had a few cows and cattle, some hens and geese, two fields of potatoes and a small field of turnips beyond the cow shed. When he was out picking turnips one day he found a silver teapot. He was excited by his find, and he wanted to show it to someone, so he went to Vera and Victor's farm just down the road.
   Vera and Victor had a large family. Kids would appear all over the place every time Laurence visited. Tiny doors would open and young faces would peer out. Heads would pop up out of trap doors and then disappear again. It was impossible to know how many kids were there. Laurence estimated that there must have been over twenty, possibly more than thirty, but not all of them belonged to Vera and Victor. Some of them were wild kids who came to the farm to be fed. Visiting the farm could be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you were nervous around kids who were free to make their own weapons without any adult supervision. When some of the kids started to get tired, they all got tired. Drowsiness was contagious. There would be a lull, and this was the best time to visit the farm. Vera and Victor loved the sense of peace that pervaded the atmosphere when the noise ceased, but Laurence still couldn't relax when he was on the farm during a lull. He was always afraid that he'd do something to set them in motion again. A noise could trigger an explosion of activity, and they'd be worse than ever after their rest. One minute all would be calm and the next minute you might see a tangle of children rolling out of a hay shed, or a swarm of kids taking a tractor apart in seconds, moving so quickly they're just a blur. Laurence always tried to visit during a lull and to leave before they got going again. He could hear them from his farm. He'd wait until the noise stopped before venturing anywhere near Vera and Victor's farm, but after finding the teapot he was so excited that he went straight there.
   The kids had recently emerged from a lull, and the noise was deafening. Victor stood at the back door with his arms folded, seemingly oblivious to the mayhem around him. Laurence showed him the teapot he found in his turnip field. When Victor saw it he smiled and said, "So the stories my father told me about Seamus were true."
   Victor took a pipe and a bag of tobacco from his coat. The noise ceased when the kids realised that their father was going to tell a story. Some of them sat on the ground around him or on the roof of the porch above him or on the roof of the house above that. Heads popped up out of chimney pots. Kids hung out of windows and clung to branches of trees. After they'd all taken their places they remained silent and still as they waited for their father to begin his story.
   "A man called Seamus owned that field many years ago," Victor said. "He used to bury things in his sleep. For a long time he was completely unaware of this, but when he realised what he was doing he wasn't too concerned because he didn't have anything of value. He'd wake up in the morning and see that a teapot was missing, and he'd assume he'd buried it somewhere during the night. If he lost an old leaking teapot, at least he'd discover that he could make tea in his kettle and he wouldn't have to drink it off the floor. It's not much fun trying to stir sugar into a puddle of tea on the kitchen floor.
   "It took another two months before he realised that he was stealing things in his sleep as well, and then burying them. His neighbours had plenty of valuables to steal, but Seamus never tried to dig up anything he had buried because he was afraid of being caught. He built an alarm system that would wake him up if he tried to leave the house at night. It was a complex mechanism involving a church bell, parts of a pipe organ, bats and twenty billiard balls. He'd stolen all of these things from the church. This system worked very well, but one night he took it all apart in his sleep, and he buried all the parts, everything except for the bats. He never tried to re-assemble the system because the bats woke him up if he tried to leave the house. Even if he remained in bed they'd wake him up."
   Laurence had a lot to think about that night. His field might well be full of stolen goods, but all of those things were stolen a long time ago, and their owners would be dead. He could dig everything up and then dig up the owners to return their valuables, but it might be better for all concerned if he just dug up the valuables and kept them for himself.
   That night he dreamt of this other hoard of treasure in his turnip field, as well as the turnips. He was woken in the morning by a noise that could be heard ten miles away, and when he looked out the window he was horrified to see that his field and most of his turnips had been destroyed. The kids had dug up the whole place. They'd retrieved all of the parts for the alarm system and they'd just succeeded in making it work again. Some of the younger children filled the role of the bats.
   Laurence was devastated at the loss of his turnips, but the other hoard of treasure did provide some consolation. The kids had no interest in all silverware and jewellery they dug up. They only wanted the alarm, so Laurence claimed possession of the treasure. It took him years to clean and catalogue the leaking teapots and silver teapots and all of the other items. His new hobby occupied his mind and kept him calm while all of the neighbours within a ten-mile radius were driven mad by the alarm.

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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