He'd asked me that morning, out of the blue. I thought he'd had so much pleasure he was muttering gibberish. I didn't answer so he nudged me ."Vicky?" Bent on spoiling my post-coital moment. "Demola what are you saying?"
"Dogs, do you think they are white?"
"Well Bruno is, anyone who isn't colour blind can see that"
"No I mean, in their mind, like the way we treat them in Naija, and the way whites do, giving them treats and stuff, which do you think they are programmed to respond to. Asin do you think they think razz? Or it depends on their owner. "
I smiled before answering, my philosopher loverman . " Woo! Me I don't know O! Is it coz I didn't let you bring him into the room that you're asking me questions of life?"
He had been cuddling me from the back, so I turned into his chest decidedly and went to sleep. Not long after, he dozed off too, as usual.
He liked the damn dog so much, I often felt it was a rival. The doctor had recently told us the dog hairs Bruno left all over the house were worsening his allergies, not to talk to spoiling my sofas. Still he sneaked him in to the bedroom on nights when I wasn't home or had sent him into one of the other rooms because we were fighting. Bruno; the other woman.
The next day was a Sunday. I'd dragged him to church after his working all night, on the compromise that we could have efo riro for lunch. Sunday afternoons are Jollof afternoons, but every time I owed him a favor, he unfailingly used it to get efo riro. It was a currency in our marriage. As I set the food on the table, I asked if that was the only sweet thing I cooked. He replied with sincerity " baby even if your food isn't sweet, I swear you'll never know" . I was still laughing when I heard the gate burst in. He ran to the window and without turning told me " climb into the ceiling, now!"
"What is it?" The dread pressed against my chest like a paperweight on nylon. " Who is it?" He turned to me with a look I'd never seen. " I love you, now get into the ceiling and don't make a sound" .They say Queen Elizabeth climbed a tree a princess and came down a queen. I came down from the ceiling hole my husband had refused to repair for such occassions to find my husband bleeding from a hole in his head. Dead. Incongruosly, I thought of the red paint Indians put on their foreheads. I sat there with him till night. Bruno began to bark. I stood up and went to free him. He sat with me and Demola. I held him and listened to his sad mewling till we both fell asleep. One happy family transcending the boundaries of life, sleep and death. We would all wake up tomorrow and eat Efo riro.
I didn't wake up to pee, I didn't dare open my eyes. I heard him call my name " ummm.." I snuggled into his body" . A hand shook my shoulder.
"Vicky, Vicky!!! Wake up now , those men are coming back" . I wondered how he could be shaking my shoulder when he was lying next to me. I felt a slap on my face. "You need to get up, you need to leave now."
I stood up and faced him. " and go to where?" . " Go to the neighbors, Doctor Kalejaiye will take care of you" " But I can't leave you" " You're not." he said, raising his palm up. I put mine against his and watched as it went through his. I looked down at his body and winced as the memory hit me, leaving in its wake a headache. Then, I started crying. The killer came in through the gate, opened the door of the house. I heard his footsteps as he entered the corridor, then the small parlor, till finally he was facing me, looking like a normal person but for the gun in his hand. He wasn't even wearing a mask. He froze when he saw me. I wondered why he hadnt pulled the trigger. Demola was shouting now. " run Vicky, move!now!" I ignored both man and apparition and continued crying. Then I heard Bruno's growl from deep in his throat. His snarling was directed at me, he bared his teeth menacingly as he approached me. I was raised by a father who was terrified of dogs. I knew I was his real daughter because despite knowing my husband's dog would never hurt me, I turned and began to run. The killer seemed to break out of his trance as well . I heard his footsteps after me, with Bruno behind us. I got to the backyard and circled to the gate where I saw his partner sitting behind the wheel of a C class Mercedes.
He was only steps from me now. I didn't turn. I heard the click of the safety then I heard him shout. Bruno snarling. I didn't turn, he groaned some more and I heard eight shots fired. I wasn't hit. I turned to see my dog's white fur was now red, only the hair on his head remained white. His teeth were sunk into the killer's thigh still. Where he'd got the strenght to keep biting, till the guy emptied his clip, i didnt know. The driver had sped away, the estate patrol were beginning their rounds. I went back in and gisted with my husband while I waited for them to come in. None of it was real yet. " tell my son I love him" he'd said just before they came in and he disappeared. Then my mother arrived and took me to the hospital. After examining me they said I was pregnant. I didn't bother to ask the sex till I gave birth to Demola junior. All the burial arrangements were overseen by my mother in law. Demola's partner, with whom he'd been working on an online shopping app that would deliver across countries had been charged with his murder. The motive was simple; money. A huge investment firm had just agreed to back it. Different people flowed in and out of my house in the days that followed. I just wanted them to leave. I wanted to be with my husband. After lots of objections to my wanting a grave for a dog, they'd decided to patronize me. Bruno was going to lie beside Demola, behind the house. In his own grave, complete with a tombstone. My mother in law said it wasn't a good idea to have them buried in the compound should I decide to sell the house and or remarry. I insisted. When my brother-in- law asked what I wanted on Bruno's headstone I smiled . " Here lies Bruno, aged 7 years, friend of Demola Cruz. White." Dogs ARE white I'd concluded, and mine was an angel.