BLACK AND WHITE BLOOD

A farmer's wife's dog dies. Who else will die as a result of the pet's death?

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BLACK AND WHITE BLOOD

 

There is a lovely road that runs from the airport to the hills. It passes through the sparsely populated rural uplands on its way to the capital, built during the colonial era on a high plateau. The countryside surrounding the city for hundreds of miles in all directions is designated rural and farming. Almost all of the land is owned by farmers.

 

Only the capital and its slums are considered urban. This is where most of the population lives.

 

The scenery is spectacular, the climate serene and the living conditions despicable.

 

*

 

The boy in charge of the cattle saw the dust in the distance thrown up by the vehicle. He left his herd and ran down the hillside towards a group of ramshackle dwellings shouting. ‘Wake up! Wake up! The farmer again. He’s coming!’

 

Two men came out of one of the ramshackle huts. They stared at the approaching vehicle and then walked quickly into the bush.

 

The boy’s name was Jabulani. The farmer’s name was Kruger. He was looking for Jabulani’s father, whose name was Paul Delani.

 

The huts were on Kruger’s land. Land his forefathers had found empty before they settled on it. That’s what they said, anyway.

 

Paul was in one of the crude buildings. He did not know yet what the farmer wanted. So he was only mildly apprehensive about the Kruger’s sudden appearance. Paul thought it was probably to do with the men who had just left. And he’d had nothing to do with them. He’d ignored them when they were there.

 

As he watched the approaching truck, he formulated what he’d say. He thought that, if asked, he’d simply tell Kruger that he did not know the men. So he felt that if this was what the farmer wanted, information about the strangers, he would be reasonably safe.

 

But that wasn’t the case.

 

Although Paul was not aware of it, Kruger was on his way to get Paul because Paul had killed Kruger’s wife’s pet dog.

 

Since her baby had died, the dog had been the light of her life. She’d carried it round with her everywhere. A beautiful looking, but snappy and thoroughly spoilt fox terrier called, of all things, Nipper. It was white with a brown head, and she’d named it after the dog listening to a phonograph on her mother’s collection of old black-with-red-labels seventy eight His Master’s Voice records.

 

Kruger didn’t like the dog much and often referred to it as Shit Head. Of course he said this mainly when his wife was not around.

 

But now the light had gone out of her life again. A dead baby and a dead dog. Both in the space of a year. What had she done to deserve this? ‘Die Here, please give me back my dog,’ she pleaded in prayer.

 

And all because Kruger had asked Paul to set a trap for the small buck that were eating the vegetables in his wife’s garden. But the wire snare had trapped Nipper instead of the thieving dik dik or duiker. So Shit Head, or Nipper, if you like, had died an agonizing death meant for a dwarf deer.

 

*

 

When Kruger had found his wife’s pet, the dog had been dead for some time. The sick smell of death filled the air.  Bloat was forcing fluids to escape from its bulging eyes, mouth, nose and anus. Flies were buzzing and fighting to get at the putrefying orifices.  When he picked it up, the stench was revolting and maggots covered the underside that had been in contact with the soil.

 

So much for his wife wondering around the property for several days and nights calling it’s stupid name.

 

‘Nip! Nip! Nippy, where are you? Nipper, mummy’s waiting. Come on, Nippy, come home to me my baby.’

 

He put the dog’s body in the back of his truck and drove home to confront his wife with the news. He was anticipating a crisis.

 

And he got one.

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