My mate Sparky was delighted to hear his crabby old Aunt had died and left him a parcel of land in the valley. His happiness was soon extinguished after visiting his new estate. The land was wild and rocky; an old wooden barn stood decaying in one corner. The land was worthless. Sparky urgently needed to make some cash to pay his court fines. Short of striking oil, how could he turn his wasteland into a goldmine?
Sparky had an idea. After being ripped off at a dodgy hypnotism course at the local community centre, he realized there was money to be made from naive idiots trying to discover a higher level of consciousness. And in a way that didn’t involve weed.
What better way to part the gullible from their cash than a meditation centre? Instead of a costly trip to the Far East in search of enlightenment, overpaid yuppies could flock to Sparky’s barn, sorry, spiritual learning retreat and sit uncomfortably in the lotus position all weekend.
Sparky was confident he could learn the art of meditation by channeling the infinite wisdom of Google. Super Dave and I were instructed to spruce up the barn to make it look Far Eastern and, well, spiritual. Obviously with me being female, Sparky reckoned, I’d know about curtains and candles and that sort of thing. Thanks, Sparky.
Super Dave headed to the docks in his truck. The port was in lock-down after a shipment from China had sparked a formaldehyde alert. Containers filled with cheap soft furnishings from Shanghai were stacked by the dockside – no-one would open them until the fumes inside had dissipated. Unfazed by the risk of noxious chemicals, Super Dave set to work with a pair of bolt cutters.
Super Dave arrived back at the barn light-headed but elated. His truck was brimming with Oriental carpets, fairy lights and plastic Buddha statues. The barn was soon transformed into a twinkling haven of peace and cheap incense. I wondered if Sparky’s plan was actually going to work this time. However, common sense told me to get out while I could, so I wished the gurus good luck and sped home.
A month later I received a whispered message from Sparky on my answer machine. He said the meditation centre had been doing a roaring trade until a group of architecture students on a weekend retreat smoked too much herb, fell into the candlelit Buddha shrine and knocked it flying.
The old wooden barn had shot up in flames like a Chinese firework, sending young architects fleeing and the stench of formaldehyde-tainted carpets billowing into the air. Worse still, the smoke was infused with the aroma of eight kilos of burning weed.
As the smell wafted towards the local police station, Sparky and Super Dave had fled. They were now hiding in an empty container at the docks.
I haven’t heard from Sparky again. Either the formaldehyde finished him off, or he and poor Super Dave are halfway to Shanghai.