What would the Buddha do?

‘What are you going to do?’

‘Use it?’

‘Why?’

‘It’s free money.’

‘But it’s not yours.’

‘Who cares?’

‘They’ll know at the shop.’

‘How?’

‘Because it’s not in your name.’

‘Sure they don’t care.’

‘They’ll ask you where you got it.’

‘I’ll tell them.’

‘What’ll you tell them?’

‘That it arrived in the post.’

‘Without your name on it?’

‘I’ll probably leave that bit out.’

‘See – that’s why it’s wrong.’

‘It’s €1.20. It’s not a fortune.’

‘Still – what about the fella that was meant to get it?’

‘It was a girl.’

‘What about her, then?’

‘She doesn’t live here anymore.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘Ciara.’

‘Ciara who?’

‘Solzenheim.’

‘What?’

‘Must have married a Polish fella or something.’

‘You should throw it in the bin.’

‘Sure then it be no good to anyone.’

‘What if she’s missing?’

‘How do you mean?’

‘What if she’s a missing person, and everyone’s looking for her, and then you use the voucher, it comes up in some database and it gives everyone false hope?’

‘What if she has emigrated, living in Australia, and doesn’t care who uses her Tesco vouchers?’

‘What if she’s broke, and really needs the €1.20 and she can use it online and then she tries and it’s like – hey, some dickhead already took it.’

‘Then she should have left a forwarding address, or logged on and told them to send it somewhere else.’

‘Maybe she couldn’t. She might have no hands.’

‘How the hell’s she going to use a voucher with no hands?’

‘I don’t know – I’m not….handless. But still. It’s wrong.’

‘What if it’s the world trying to do me a favour?’

‘A €1.20 favour?’

‘Yeah. I could buy a scratched and win €5,000.’

‘And if you do – will you track down Ciara and tell her?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Really?’

‘Probably not. I could use it to go to Spain. On Holiday. Or buy a car.’

‘And what if the plane crashed? Or the car hit the wall and you ended up blind?’

‘Why blind?’

‘As a punishment. Try writing your books when you can’t see.’

‘For using a €1.20 voucher.’

‘For stealing.’

‘Who am I stealing off?’

‘Ciara Solzenheim.’

‘But she’s not here.’

‘Still – the Buddha would know. Karma would know.’

‘Fuck the Buddha. He’s not paying the rent.’

‘He’s testing you.’

‘You can say that again.’

‘What if she doesn’t want to be found?’

‘Why wouldn’t she want to be found?’

‘What if she’s in the Witness Protection Programme.’

‘That’s only for Americans.’

‘They have it here now too. I know a girl in it.’

‘Sounds secure as hell.’

‘I’m not supposed to tell anyone.’

‘Is her name Ciara Solzenheim?’

‘No – but imagine you go to the Tesco, use her voucher, it comes up as not valid. The cashier asks – who’s Ciara Solzenheim? The security guard overhears it. He’s connected to a local gang in town and tells them she’s back around. Some fella was in the shop. Knows her. Then they come looking for you….’

‘That won’t happen.’

‘How do you know it won’t?’

‘It’s a €1.20 voucher. It’s not going to down planes, crash cars, make people blind or get people killed….’

‘Best of luck so.’

‘What am I supposed to do?’

‘Ask yourself – What would the Buddha do?’


Buy Mick Donnellan’s Novels in PAPERBACK here.

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