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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2. 2

 

 

Kruger’s wife was in the kitchen. ‘Bad news about the dog, I’m afraid. Caught in a trap.’

 

They went out to the truck. He pointed at the dog lying in the back, flies swooping and swarming across the lifeless body.

 

She stared at her darling in disbelief. Then she started to hit Kruger. She struck him on the face and chest with balled fists. ‘You… you…’ She was lost for words. ‘You bastard. You fucking bastard,’ she shouted as she let fly at him.

‘What are we doing here? Why did you bring me to this godforsaken place?’

 

Why indeed? He had no answer. What were they doing there?

 

 

*

 

Kruger looked at the huts in disgust. ‘These people,’ he thought. ‘No self-respect. Just look at the fucking mess.’

 

He called out for Paul who had once been one of his farm labourers until he got too old for regular daylong work. But he had to earn his living in order to remain on the farmer’s land. So he looked after the farmer’s wife’s extensive vegetable patch.

 

Kruger saw an old man come shuffling towards him from one of the shacks. Paul took off his battered hat.

 

Kruger immediately detected a sullen look. He knew how to read these people. He’d been amongst them all his life. And he was sure that Paul looked both truculent and guilty. He’d done it deliberately. That was obvious from his surly manner.

 

Times were changing. Things were different now that times had changed. But the changes were not for the better in Kruger’s opinion. Some of his neighbours, and worse still, even some of his relatives, allowed these people to ride in the cab with the owner of the vehicle. But Kruger prided himself on one of the old guard. ‘Get in the back!’ he told Paul. The old man climbed up onto the bakkie and sat on the metal seat over the rear wheel.   

 

*

 

When he got back through the automated gates in the perimeter fence, Kruger told Paul to go to the machine shed. Then he went to fetch his wife. He told her to stand by the door. He told Paul to take off his shirt and lean across one of the tractor wheels. He took a sjambok off a hook on the wall.

 

He had a few practice swings. The animal hide whip made a swishing sound as it cut through the air.

 

Kruger’s wife stood with her legs slightly apart, watching. He began his work. 

 

Paul made no sound. The only thing that could be heard was the sjambok in the air as it arched towards the cuts it made in the flesh on the labourer’s back.

 

After a few minutes, Kruger’s wife shouted, ‘Stop. Stop Jannie. Stop now. That’s enough.’

 

Kruger stopped. He told Paul to get into the back of the truck. He drove the man back to his hut.

 

*

 

 

Jabulani was staring at Kruger from where he lay on the earth floor of his father’s hut. He was looking under the gap in the door. He saw Kruger grab Paul and pull him off the back of the truck. The old man’s shirt was covered in blood. When Kruger had driven off, the old man put his hat back on his head.

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