The Dung Beetle

Nina Müller

Inspired by the Pilahaka Sutta

untitledRonnie stood at the mirror and beamed at the pristine reflection that shone back at him. He had greased his hair and parted it down the middle and was wearing his trendiest suit, which he had ironed himself last night. He straightened himself and grinned at the thought of his entrance into the conference room. The partners would nod at him with respect, and he imagined Francine giving him a cheeky wink as he swaggered past her on his way to the whiteboard. He was meant for this position, he knew it, and his reflection confirmed that he would get it.

Now all he needed was the final touch, the tie with the yellow stripes that added a hint of adventure to his classy look—a clever combination which had brought him success time and time again. He walked to his dresser, grabbing his pungent deodorant on the way and dousing himself with it one last time. Odd, he thought, when he got to the closet and saw that his tie was not on the top shelf as it should be. He checked the two lower shelves and cast a quick glance at his watch—he had exactly eight minutes to make it to the bus stop.

Aware that every minute lost would get him further away from his promotion, he did not check the rest of his room but hurried into the bathroom which was so bare that it was impossible the tie could have lost itself there. His chest tightened at this realization and he undid the top two buttons of his shirt to allow himself to breathe more easily. Aware of the precious time he had lost in doing this he ran into the living room, which contained merely a suede sofa, coffee table and 46″ inch TV. He frantically searched under the numerous fitness and car magazines that were scattered about the place and for each unsuccessful toss an additional drip of sweat poured out from under his shirt.

Feeling a sudden stir in his stomach he unfastened his belt, making a mental note to himself to remember to buckle it up later. This can’t be, he thought, as he grabbed the sofa and shook it violently, with the futile hope that the tie would magically fall out. When it did not he kicked the sofa so hard that he felt his toe nail rip. Ignoring the throbbing pain and the loose nail in his sock he ran back into the bedroom, where he opened all his closet’s drawers and threw one item of clothing after another onto the floor, sweat now cascading all down his suit.

With a lamenting groan he jolted into the kitchen and quickly scanned the used dishes and saucepan until his eyes finally lay on . . . the bin! Yes, he must have accidentally put the tie in the bin when he was throwing out his holed socks. Realising what this meant he dashed through the front door, down the stairs and out the back of the apartment. Despite his socks being soaked right through by the time he arrived to his destination, Ronnie let out a huge sigh of relief and laughed victoriously when he recognised his see-through bin liner just as the waste collectors arrived. Ripping it open, he spotted the tie amongst the slushy refuse within and walked straight towards the waste collector, unaware of the sweat pouring from his body, the blood seeping through his socks and the dangling belt.

“Hey, do me a favour and get the tie out of the bin?” he asked, grinning with the certainty of a man who knows his place in the world.

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