So my wife hired a bouncer.
Fair enough, this does not seem outrageous if were running a bar or disco but for a take away food café—come on!
That’s how bad things had degenerated at our new locale, a 24/7 café, well sort of, especially in the evenings.
It did not help matters that our new locale is underneath the boombox of a very popular and supposedly famous nightclub called Black Diamond in one of Nairobi’s busier suburbs called Westlands. We had moved our business there from the downtown area where business was less than good but our new venue was about a third the size as the old. Who needs tables and chairs when you are plastered?
At any rate, compared to our old third floor restaurant, this smaller place was quite busy between the hours of 1-4am, particularly on Thursday-Saturday evenings.
You can imagine the wobbly clientele who inhabit our café: scantily clad ‘ladies of the night’ (some without panties—how could they?), some pissed mzungus (white guys), a few drugged-up Indians and our friendly staff who had to put up with the offtimes belligerent nightfolk. Nevertheless, these patrons are our bread and butter so to say, feasting themselves on a variety of deep-friend delicacies: half-chicken with cheeps, veggie and fiery meat samozas, bhaji, grilled sausages, mandazis (donuts), freshly-made pizzas, and array of sodas, water and a few other goodies.
But I digress.
We had a had a few bust-ups between patrons, mostly the men fighting over the ladies but occasionally a few of the ‘ladies’ taking matters into their own hands especially over territorial rights. Nothing new in that respect—just as long as they pay up!
Normally, my wife turns off here phone at night to avoid the café phoning her at some ungodly hour but this night she didn’t. You can imagine our surprise when we were awoken from our slumbers by a call at 3am. Apparently some burly brute of a man, with an air of confidence (don’t fuck with me), walked though our door at around 2am. He ordered one of the pizzas and the chef prepared it for him and handed it over on a plate as the guy was going to eat in the café.
“That’s 450 shillings,” said the chef.
The guy got agitated. ‘The sign says 350.”
“Sorry but that’s the old price,” added the chef, innocently.
The café hadn’t been in operation for the past two years and we were in such a hurry to move from our old location that we hadn’t yet changed the prices on the overhead menu. Once our waiters, chef or manager explained this to our customers they understood. However, we were now dealing with a rough, tough, heavily- liquoured security man.
“Are you bastards trying to rob me?” He bellowed.
The chef’s grasp of English was weak and he was unable to convince this guy of the changes in price.
“I’m from INTERPOL so don’t fuck with me,” he said as he let the plate and pizza crash on our marble floor.
Gracie’s uncle was on duty, he was sitting in the corner of the café watching this unfold. He tried to calm the man down but by now the ten other customers who were there had left, some without paying fearing a donnybrook.
“Please sah,” her Uncle continued, “this café is under new management and you know Kenya. The prices are changing all the time...”
But before Uncle could finish, the man threw an empty soda bottle at him. It sailed over Uncle’s head and smashed on the wall behind him.
Then the INTERPOL guy grabbed the slightly built chef and pinned his arms against our freezer yelling more invective at the hapless guy.
“You know I’m trained to kill people.” He yelled at the chef.
The guy was a brute plus he may have been armed.
Upon hearing all this commotion, one of the askari (security guards) showed up and tried his best to intervene but the INTERPOL guy, trained in karate and self-defence, took to beating the askari.
The early morning excitement had also brought a crowd of mostly taxi drivers who were waiting to drive drunken nightclubbers home. The drivers tried to stop the guy outside, ripping off his shirt but he fought them off. Then he threatened to beat them up as well but the drivers picked up whatever they could, with one guy throwing a rock at the INTERPOL guy’s chest. The guy retreated and quickly got into his car and took off a high speed in this busy area.
Things seem to return to normal only to find that 10 minutes later this guy came roaring back baying for blood. He came out of his car, bare-chested, brazen by alcohol, brandishing a nightstick or a length of pipe, threatening to pulverize someone with it. By now the cabbies had had enough and they managed to drive him off again.
I don’t know if this INTERPOL guy was on drugs but from what I heard, he was sure acting strange. I told Gracie to tell her uncle and the chef to go immediately to the police station and make a report and if necessary, file a claim.
The loss of revenue for this night was considerable but we were just thankful that there was not any loss of life. We did not want this type of thing to become regular.
Gracie’s brother and sister were supposed to have been working this night but they changed their shift at the last moment. We were thankful of their decision.
After hearing this report from uncle in the morning, talking amongst ourselves, my wife decided to hire a bouncer, a big bouncer! We’ve had no problem since then and our staff has had peace of mind.
Now for the rest of the story.
However, just a week ago, the bouncer got a little over-zealous in his duties. This was the time of the year when rowdy university students come back for the start of their academic year and to re-visit their local watering holes. One uni chap unwisely decided to test our bouncers metal, so to say. Things got out of hand with the varsity lad getting the worse of it and to add salt to his wounds--his expensive Blackberry phone was taken during the scuffle with our bouncer. Why a uni kid was out making merry and showing off his phone was beyond me especially in Nairobbery where anything goes at nighttime. The uni kid accused our bouncer of nicking it, so he went to report this to the local constabulary. The bouncer had already buggered off with his latest acquisition, be it ill-gotten.
At 3am on Saturday morning, my wife got a phone call from her brother, who happened to be working this evening shift for a little extra cash for his own studies, saying that he and the uncle were in the police station, in a cell no less. Because the bouncer had fled, the police naturally wanted to have some kind of collateral and jailed the only other employees available. I told Gracie that the police should be after the bouncer and not jail two innocent guys, but such is life in Kenya--the land of impunity!
Gracie had to go and bail out the brother and uncle, then agreed to settle the phone matter out of court, 2000 UAE dirhams worth to replace the stolen phone. She will pay the cops a weekly amount to include our cafe as part of their nightly/weekend beat and be on notice should anymore shenanigans avail themselves.
The bouncer was last seen trotting down Wiayaki Way, bound for nowhere.