The silence lasted for approximately ten seconds. Life stood still. Shade saw everything with so much clarity. Her senses were heightened like that of an owl flying at night, its eyes piercing the darkness, its ears receiving, sifting through and decoding sounds incomprehensible to human ears. She heard the sound of her own heart pounding in her chest, ‘thum’, ‘thum’, ‘thum’, like three women with long pestles, pounding yam in a huge mortar, preparing for a wedding feast in the village. She saw Ngozi examine her body, searching for signs of injury and finding none. She saw Gbenga standing to Ngozi’s left, his hands hanging by his side, his face contorted in pain. Then she watched him slowly tip over.
Gbenga fell on the floor like a bag of cement. From a tiny hole on the right side of his chest, blood oozed and slowly spread on his shirt, forming a surreal pattern like the painting of a flower drawn by a deranged 18th century artist. The blood dripped on the floor forming a small puddle by his right shoulder.
“My chest, my chest,” Gbenga heaved, his breathing laboured. “Shade, why?” he asked.
The gun slipped from Shade’s trembling fingers and clattered to the floor.
“What have I done?” Her hands shook like a cocaine addict dying to have a fix. She stood transfixed to the spot watching what was happening like a spectator at a football match.
Ngozi ran to Gbenga’s side and knelt down.
“Darling, please talk to me,” she held his right hand to her face and kissed it gently as she spoke. ” I love you Gbenga, don’t you dare die on me now,” Ngozi said, not concerned that Shade stood six feet away from her, with a gun by her feet. “Gbenga, we have a wonderful future together, please don’t die now, don’t.” She lifted his head and cradled it in her arms. Her hands and dress were covered in blood but she didn’t care.
“Agh,” Gbenga moaned in pain.
“Oh my God! I have killed him. I have killed him!” Shade cried.
Ngozi stood up, took quick steps towards her former friend and hit her.
“Will you get a grip and stop blubbering like a child!”
“I have killed Gbenga. I have killed my husband,” Shade whispered like a wounded cat.
Standing by the stairs, with Gbenga lying on the floor, covered in his own blood, Shade saw the future flash before her eyes. She saw Gbenga rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. She saw him carried into the emergency room, with nurses and doctors running around to save his life. She saw him rolled into surgery and the doors shut. She saw the doctors emerge from the room minutes later, their faces downcast, giving their condolences, claiming that it was too late and they couldn’t save him.
She saw Ngozi abscond from the hospital like a vampire fleeing from a valiant priest wielding holy water and a cross, leaving her alone with the cold corpse of what used to be her husband. She saw the police arrive at her home, asking her questions to which she had no answers. She saw the police reading her her rights as they put handcuffs on her wrists before her daughter Tola, who is crying inconsolable in the arms of her grandmother, who is in shock, not knowing what to do. She saw the police take her down to the station to be charged with the murder of her husband, Gbenga Philips. She saw herself spending gruelling hours with her lawyers who try to determine what really happened. They ask her questions which bother on insanity.
‘Why did you shoot your husband? Why did you turn the gun on him when you were struggling with Ngozi? Did you kill him because he was about to get married to your best friend? Were you after the inheritance of your husband? Your husband had a life insurance policy for two million dollars and you are the sole beneficiary of that insurance. Is that why you killed him? Did you collude with Ngozi to kill your husband and share the insurance money together?’
She saw herself charged to court where there would be a trial, publicised in the newspapers, on social media platforms and on television. She saw total strangers on Facebook and Twitter declare her guilty of murder even before the trial began. She saw her former best friend Ngozi testifying against her, telling the court how Gbenga loved her and how they planned to get married on Valentine’s day. She saw Ngozi tell the court that Gbenga was shot by a jealous wife who saw her marriage slipping from her fingers and wanted to finish off her husband instead of losing him to a more beautiful woman. With the evidence stacked up against her, she saw the judge declare her guilty of murder. She saw two possible endings to her ordeal. She would be incarcerated for a long time, or if she was unlucky, she would be sentenced to face a horrible death by hanging.
“He is not dead,” Ngozi broke into her thoughts. “He is badly wounded, but if you will stop talking long enough for me to think, I will be able to figure out how to save his life!” Ngozi snapped.
Shade felt so helpless. What had possessed her to pull a gun on her husband and his mistress? She desperately wanted to save her marriage but now she had made things worse. If Gbenga survived this incident he would never love her again. This was definitely the end of her marriage.
Ngozi found her bag lying on the floor of the bedroom where she dropped it during the struggle for the gun. She came out of the room, brought out her phone and dialled a number.
“Sadique, are you alone?” Ngozi asked.
“No, I’m not.”
“We have a situation. I need you to come into the house right now. Come upstairs. Make sure you come alone.”
She heard him whisper to someone then return to the phone.
“I am on my way,” he said.
Ngozi put the phone back in her bag. She noticed that the gun was still lying on the floor near Shade’s feet. She picked it up, carefully adjusted the safety clip and put it inside her bag.
She turned to Shade.
“I want you to go into your bedroom right now and shut the door.”
Shade nodded her head and started walking towards her bedroom like a zombie, dragging her feet as if they had weights of iron tied to them. She stopped by Gbenga who was bleeding on the floor.
“Keep moving,” Ngozi said. “And make sure you don’t call anyone. Do you understand me?”
Shade nodded her head like a child and entered the bedroom.
Moments later Sadique ran up the stairs. He saw Gbenga lying on the floor and Ngozi kneeling beside him. He knelt down and examined the wound.
Sadique turned around to see where the sound came from. The master bedroom door was slightly ajar.
“Who is in there?” he pointed with his head in the direction of the bedroom.
“Shade Philips.” Ngozi answered.
“What happened here?” he asked.
Ngozi narrated what transpired minutes earlier.
Sadique lifted Gbenga carefully and looked for an exit wound on his back. There was none. That meant the bullet was lodged somewhere in his body.
“I need to get something to staunch the wound and stop the bleeding.” He went downstairs to the kitchen, opened the pantry and brought out the first aid box. He returned with the box, set it down on the floor beside Gbenga and opened it.
“He needs urgent medical attention,” Sadique said as he cleaned the wound and put a gauze on it. “We need to get him to a hospital as soon as possible.”
“Under no circumstance should you allow anyone enter this house to see him. Neither should he be taken out of this house to a hospital,” Ngozi warned. “This is a gunshot wound. If you take him to a hospital forms will be filled, questions will be asked, the police will get involved. I don’t want this to go beyond the walls of this building. Do you understand?”
Sadique nodded. “So what do we do?” he asked.
“You were in the military, you’ve seen worse injuries. Can you treat his wound?” Ngozi asked.
“I admit to have seen worse injuries, but they were treated by medical doctors. I am not sure that I can treat this wound with what we have here. I have to remove the bullet lodged in his chest. I need some medical supplies and equipment.”
Ngozi brought out her phone.”What do you need?”
Sadique told her the items he needed. “Where will you get them from?” he asked.
“Let me worry about that,” Ngozi said and dialled a number.
To be continued.