The setting is the counseling room of the Laikipia Oaks Addiction Treatment Centre. A high-cost rehabilitation centre based on the outskirts of Nanyuki.
We are in an elegantly furnished counseling room with potted plants, plaid yellow sofas with a regal well-varnished office desk and large office chair. The room is laid with lush beige wall-to-wall carpet and two large photos: one of Mount Kenya and the other of the Railway line with the Aberdares in the background.
Mark’s father, Hon. Bwana Mkuu is pacing vigorously and is violently angry. In the room, there is Michelle, a counselor, with an open file on her laps. She sits facing a weeping Mrs Elena Mkuu, elegantly dressed, looking at the floor sitting at the edge of the chair, with her hands crossed at her knees as she holds a handkerchief. Next to her is 21-year-old Makena in long braids, a red trench coat over a brilliant white blouse and fitting blue jeans that disappear into black knee-length leather boots. She has on her earphones and chats on her phone throughout the scene. Mark, 25, dreadlocked, is also seated with a defiant look on his face, elbows on the arms of the chair and fingers locked across his belly, in a grey hoodie, jeans and brand new sneakers looking straight out of the window with tightly pursed lips and a clenched jaw.
I don’t believe this! Do you know what your drug use has cost me? All of us? Do you even care?
Mark, I was telling your father you are not ready to leave…
Michelle speaks in a soft voice
You guys just want to milk money off my Father! Do you know that’s my inheritance? I am not staying!
Bwana Mkuu stops and looks at Mark in disbelief and disgust
What? What? What the f…! What bloody inheritance are you bloody talking about?
Lunges at Mark who quickly stands and lifts his fists to defend himself. His father stops in shock at his son’s sheer audacity.
Oh, now you want to hit me? Eh-eh!
Baba Mark please. Mark, kaa chini please. Michelle, please please what do we do?
Elena gestures helplessly and tries to implore Makena’s support who just rolls her eyes and turns away
I have said, and I am going to say this again. I am never ever going to drink or take heroin again. Never. I am done! This is my fucking sixth time in rehab… why can’t you guys take my word for it?
With his arms in the air and yelling
But, but, but that’s what you said the last five times and God know how many more times in between. What’s so different this time that we have to believe you? What are you putting on the table? In fact, just give me a minute.
Bwana Mkuu gets out of the room, slamming the door behind him and for a few seconds, the room is silent. He comes back with a large brown envelope and a bottle of Vodka
So, you say you are serious about never drinking again? Ok, let’s see how serious you are!
Hon Mkuu removes wads of One Thousand Shilling notes from the envelope and bangs them on the coffee table in the middle of the room together with a bottle of Vodka. Makena is startled by the ongoing drama and looks up, as she removes the earphones from her ears, for the first time with a wide-eyed baffled gaze.
That [pointing at the cash] is a million bob. And, and, and here is what I am putting on the bloody table against your word. Now, listen to me very very clearly because I will only say this once.
Loosens his tie comes and stands close to Mark who is an inch taller than him.
You say you will never drink again? Here is the truth. I do not believe you. And because I do not believe you one bit I am going to make you an offer I am likely to regret.
Points to the table while staring directly at Mark
This is my offer. You stay here at Laikipia whatchamacallit and complete the remaining ONLY three and a half weeks that Michelle says you need to do. Or you take that million shillings on the table and get out of my life!
Mark moves towards the table
No, no, young man. Wait a minute. I am not done with my offer. You see that bottle…
Bwana Mkuu takes the bottle, opens it and puts it down again and approaches Mark up close to his face and pointing to the bottle on the table...
...You must drink that if you want the million bob. All. Of. It.
Baba Mark, what is this now?
He wants me to take him at his word… there is my offer. You come home after three weeks here or leave now, with a million bob having finished that bottle HERE!
Mark seems confused and does not know what to do
seeming interested in the proceedings for the first time
Please, no. Mark, please don’t do it. Pleeeaaaase.
Makena attempts to hug her brother, but Mark pushes her away. He sits down at the very edge of the sofa. He bites his lip, nervously scratches his head and picks his nose as he fixes his gaze on the money and the booze. He is confused and quiet. And the room is quiet and for a few moments, everyone is still. He stands and there is a gasp from his mum and his sister. He sits down. They exhale. He stands again walks around the room in utter frustration.
Michelle, what do I do?
Sorry, but this is your decision to make.
Mark sits down again. Places his hands over his head never keeping his eyes from the table. He stands again. And remembers all the dramas of his drinking. The police, the muggings, the HIV positive diagnosis, the dropping out of college? Three times you have done that?
You remember how just five months ago, you were brought here by the police after a deal with the OCS? You don’t even remember who infected you with HIV. You remember the kid you killed while speeding at your girlfriend’s Estate. If it wasn’t for your father…
Marks vigorously shakes his head to ward off those memories. He looks at everybody intensely. He begins to weep whilst shaking uncontrollably and with one quick sweep he takes the bottles throws the lid off, gobbles down the contents, grabs the money and puts the wads under his hoodies and walks out, slamming the door behind him.
End of Scene
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3 thoughts on “A Scene from Choices, Choices”
Awesome writing from the master himself!
Waooh! Chris, that’s great man! So that’s what you’ve been up to? I’m so proud of you!!!!
This is sweet like bone soup… though my emotions were way up… then Choices hahaha. I was in that room while reading