Just Business

The man seated in front of me is not pleased.

I can see it from the way he spills a bit of the expensive scotch he’s pouring for himself onto the mahogany desk he sits behind. He mutters something that is too low for me to catch but is probably a swear word and takes out a tissue from under the table to clean up his mess. He looks at me, the veins on his temples more prominent that before I gave him my message. Then he looks back at the glass and its content for a brief moment before tilting his head violently backwards and downing it to the last drop. He places the glass back unto the table with an audible thud, not too forcefully to warrant a break, but enough to make his frustration obvious. As if I can’t tell.

“What’s your price again?” he asks, as if I would even think of changing it at this crucial moment.

“GHS 4 million,” I state coolly, not taking my eyes off his. He finds it disconcerting I can tell, the way he constantly shifts his gaze from mine. He’s used to being in control. Not this one time.

“And we can’t, uh, come to an agreement? A reduction in the price?” he asks again, a man trying to find a way to beg without saying the words. Now it’s my turn to get frustrated.

“Sir, last year your company turned in profits of GHS 16 million, GHS 8.9 million of which was yours. The previous year it was slightly under GHS 13 million. You’re a rich man. And you’ll be rich after this little (at the mention of the word ‘little’ he looks as if he’s about to pop a vein) sum I’m asking for, I’m almost certain. However, you’ll be bankrupt in a week if you don’t agree to pay now. Your choice.”

“How do you know all this?” he asks incredulously. I smile a little knowing smile.

“After seeing the documents in that envelope are you really asking me that question?” I say, my eyes for the first time in a while shifting from his face to a thick brown envelope that lies in front of him. He follows my gaze, and winces when it lands on the envelope. As if he thought the scotch would have made the envelope disappear. No, this is not a bad dream, I almost want to say, to taunt him. But I have to play it cool. I need the money.

“Explain to me what exactly will happen after I pay?” he says, his eyes not lifting from the envelope. A defeated man.

“You pay the money into a bank account, and we forget about all of this,” I point at the envelope. “The compensation of the families affected would be our concern, not yours anymore.”

“And if I don’t pay?”

“Well, there are a lot of people who will pay good money to see your company thoroughly investigated. To see you out of the competition. Your rivals, Gyimah & Co for instance. I hear your new product will cause them to make a huge loss.”

Again he winces at my knowledge.

“You know too much.” He mutters. I smile inwardly. I know more than he assumes I do.

He looks at me with dark eyes.

“What’s the guarantee that I won’t hear from you after this?”

“None.” I state simply. He looks aghast.

“However, I can guarantee that if you don’t pay, you’ll hear from me again.” I add.

“Where do I sign?” he asks, resignedly.

“Nowhere, just have your bankers transfer the money to this account.” I hand him a piece of paper with the account number on it.

“GHS 4 million is going to take a few phone calls.” He says.

“Get to work then.”

The whole process takes about half an hour of phone haggling, but eventually the money is transferred.

I take my leave, millions of cedis richer than before.

I wonder what Mr. Gyimah would pay for this information.



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