In a phone conversation.
Johana: These days the electricity bill is higher than rent. At this rate, nobody will live in self contained houses.
Wachira (on phone): Don't worry, that is a problem that can only be solved by the energy minister. Otherwise?
Johana: I don't have much credit, I will call you later.
Johana hangs up. Kimani enters in a hurry.
Kimani: Hello Mzee?
Johana: Mzee is your father. In the city there is no mzee.
Kimani: Sorry, I was just respecting you.
Johana: Respect the fact that you are still alive with these hard economic times. So do you have a client?
Kimani: Yes, a number of people want to see the mutoka(motor car). This time round, no jokes.
Johana: I am used to your stories of roundi hii si mchezo. So how many people want to see it and do they look like they have money? I am burning too much fuel going to town to show my rich man's car to poor men.
Kimani: I have 3 people and one mhindi. One works at treasury, the other one is a doctor and the other one is a lawyer. The Mhindi has a shop on Biashara street.
Johana: What quote did you give them?
Kimani: Five thate. See, u know I have to eat thirty?
Johana: Just sell the damn thing stop your thirty thirty stories here.
Kimani: Sawa lets go and make money. Let me drive so that I get a feel of what I am selling.
Johana: Young man, this car was made for one hand only. Even my first born son does not know the comfort of the driver's seat. FocuS!!!
Johana: You know these days, they are selling air in hospitals and urinating space. The other day, I urinated at a place we used to urinate in the 80s' and I was fined by kanjo, Ksh 500. Imagine 500 for useless water.
Kimani: You could have gone to the pay toilets. They charge ksh 5 only.
Johana: Wewe, Ksh 5 is a lot of money. My father used to earn rofia (ksh 2) during the railway times and we were among the richest in the village.
Kimani: I hear your father had a shoe that could not wear out?
Johana: Think of business. Idiot! What if those people give us fake money? I will strangle you and throw you in a ditch.
Kimani: Haiii, a mhindi can never do illegal business. The other three guys look serious, i do not expect such a thing. But we can do the business in the bank.
Johana: Wewe, do you know what your are talking about? Taking ksh 500000 to a bank will raise eyebrows. The bank can even grab the money and send us away.
Kimani: Nooo nooo, banks these days dont ask many questions. Anyway, I also like feeling the warm of the notes in my wallet. It makes me taller when I seat.
Johana: If somebody heard you talking, they could think we bought the car from wathin'gitu (washington) with you.
Kimani: Here we are. This is where they call treasury. The finance minister passes through that gate at 9am sharp.
Johana: This treasury guy could have made all the money we need for the car with 20 minutes. Working in such a place is not a joke. You can walk into the office one day and find they did not switch of the money making machine. Then you become a millionaire with the blink of an eye.
Kimani: That guy in a black suit is the one. I hear he has a masters degree. Don't let the talk flow to academics. He could unleash vocabularies and make us sell the car for half the price. By the way he calls me Andrew so dont kimani me around.
A man walks towards the vintage Benz with his head high. Kimani and Johana look frightful. Kimani does the introduction as they shake hands.
Kimani: Hey Mr. Rono, this is Mzee Johana and this is the car we are selling. (Turning to Mr Johana) And this is Mr. Rono, we were housemates in campus.
Johana: Hello, Mr Rono. I am the gentleman who owns the Merc. It is a 1970, 4 cylinder, 2 kafuraita, 3 pedal, 4 door, navy blue, local, ex-white owner, powerful German machine. The price is equivalent to that of a toy but it is real. It is very good for an office environment like this and for going to the beans on weekends. The body is pure metal and when it roars, village men take their hats off.
Kimani: Yeah yeah yeah. The price is just as we talked.
Rono: I told Andrew that ksh 550,000 was too high. My budget is ksh 450,000 max.
Johana: We can't become enemies because of ksh 70000. Just get in and test drive and I am sure by the time you come back, you will know why we are selling it at ksh 500000.
Rono gets into the car but the ignition is not working.
Rono: Hey, is this the right key for this car? It is rotating 360 degrees in the slot.
Johana: Yeah that is the key. The diesel must be cold. Just step on the clutch as we shove. (The engine roars and Rono zooms off to a distance.)
Kimani: U told him we are selling it for Ksh 500000. U did not include my thate. And dont call me kimani again when he is around. Im andrew!
Johana: Auuuwi, sorry bwana, but you also want to eat too much. Why did you tell him Ksh 550,000?
Kimani: That is how business is done in town. You quote high so that you meet at your desired point. These are new times mzee.
Johana: Okay shut up, he is coming back.
(Rono stops a distance past them.)
Rono: The steering wheel is turning at an angle of 20 degrees and the brakes are loose that's why i stopped there instead of here. The driver's seat does not have adjustment and the panels are making noise.
Kimani: That's a small problem. With Ksh 2,000 all those problems are over. How much do you feel you can offer?
Rono: I think that car deserves Ksh 420,000.
Johana: Is that your best deal?
Johana: Kimani, this is not a buyer. Call the other two guys but if you know they are like that one, just give me ksh 200 for my fuel back home.
Kimani(Calling Dr. Murungi): Hello, daktari. I am in town with the Merc we had talked about.
Murungi: Aiii, my friend, we said next week. I still ndon't ave any money. But ndon't worry, next week I can mbuy that rinde. Njust mbe patient. But you should think of reducing to Ksh. 450,000. That will mbe ngoond mbusiness. I ave to ngo, mbyee.
Kimani: That one is bringing stories of next week. Let me call wakili.
(Calling again)Hello, yes my leaned friend. I am outside the treasury with the merc I told you about. I wanted you to see it.
Wakili (On Phone): Come to the Law Courts car park.
Kimani: In two minutes we will be there. See you then.
Johana: Is that one also a tomato buyer? Why do you deal with people who earn peanuts.
Kimani: Let us go to the law courts car park. The people who earn peanuts are the ones who drive this economy. Do you think the president could offer himself security?
Johana: Whatever. Lets sell the car first.
(They drive off.)
Kimani: It is at this gate.
Johana: I wonder if they charge parking fees. Ksh 150 is a lot of money. Tell him we have parked outside, that parking boy is already eyeing the Kshs 200 I have in my pocket.
Kimani: Let us enter, just cut the parking fees from my commission.
Johana: You middlemen talk like the car is already sold.
Kimani: The guy at that far end is the prospect. Remember, I am Andrew.
(They drive up to Wakili and they stop centimeters away from wakili's feet. Kimani does the introduction.)
Kimani : Hello, Wakili, meet Johana, the owner of the Merc.
Johana (shaking hands with Wakili ): I am the gentleman who owns the Merc. The body is pure metal and when it roars, village men take their hats off. Also very good when it comes to campaign time.
Wakili: How can it help me in the campaign for the constitution? You know it is a fundamental document that we are rooting for as the learned men who practice at the bar.
Johana: Yeah it is very good for going to the bar. Even when you collide while drank, it is the other car that feels the pain.
Wakili: How can it help me in campaigning for the constitution?
Johana: Eeeh, you can carry the constitution in the spacious backseat on your way to the courts, the back left seat is very comfortable and you can read the constitution while your driver carries you in front.
Kimani: Eeer, Mr. Wakili, please have a look at the car. The price is just as we agreed, Kshs 550,000.
Wakili takes a look at the car, going to the back and the other side. Kimani and Johana whisper.
Johana: So you brought me to town for your own business?
Kimani: That is the way business is done. This guy will give the cash.
Wakili: Can I test drive?
Johana: Go ahead. Here are the keys.
Wakili: Four different keys for the same vehicle? How is that possible?
Johana: Eeer, the big one is the ignition, the two smaller ones are for the driver and passenger door and the smallest is for the padlock on the boot.
Kimani: Hold on wakili, we need to shove you a little.
Johana: Hold onto the clutch tight.
(The engine roars and Wakili slowly rolls off.)
Kimani: That guy is serious.
Johana: He is only serious with the constitution.
(Wakili slowly winds his way back to where Johana and Kimani are standing. They car bumps slightly into the car in front.)
Kimani: Oh my. Wakili, You still dont know how to drive after all those years?
Wakili: That car has no breaks. Let me reverse we assess the damage on that car. It belongs to my friend Mwasia.
(Pushing the car backwards.)
Wakili: This car misses out on most of the essential specs of an automobile. The reverse gear is faulty and so is the ignition. The brakes are worn out and the panels make me feel like I am driving through a scrap metal yard. With all due respect, the Kenyan law stipulates that such cars be disposed according to Cap 178 of the Automobiles Act.
Johana: Yeah, yeah, you know automobiles act very funny sometimes. How much do you have?
Wakili: The steering is just partially functional. That is insubordination of machine to man. I can only offer. Kshs 200,000 since I will have to refurbish it with the same amount.
Kimani: Are you serious?
Wakili: I'd rather take the other one you brought last week, Andrew. This one is too old.
Johana: Haiya. I thought lawyers have money. If you want a car for that price, go to Grogon and get accident write offs. Kimani let us go.
Wakili: Who is kimani?
Kimani: He calls me that, he confuses me with another guy. See you Wakili, I will give you a call.
Johana: I doubt if that guy is a lawyer. He just talks good English but he has no money. In our days, lawyers were very rich. If you hear someone saying the car panels are making noise, that is a person who does not have money. How dare he call my car old? Doesn't he know that old is gold?
Kimani: He wants a perfect car. Let him stay, he will come looking for us when we have already sold this.
Johana: Let us go to the Mhindi.
Kimani: The Mhindi's fon is not going through. I guess we will have to do this business tomorrow.
Johana: So after consuming my fuel and making me pay parking fees for parking 10 minutes in a lawyer's car park, i go home empty handed?
Kimani: Its not like that. Business needs perseverance.
Johana: Your business needs everything. Get out of my car you hungry brat. See you in a bar somewhere in hell. I will buy u two bloody drinks.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~to be continued~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.