Heinrich B. Zaayman, American Renaissance, March 2011
Boxy was a dog of uncertain descent, but by no means ugly. He was big, with a beautiful head, big ears, and friendly brown eyes. One of his parents must have been a Mastiff type and the other probably a Labrador.
While driving back to the farm one day, Granddad saw a shoe box lying next to the road, which actually moved. Curious, he stopped to investigate, and found a skinny little puppy inside, already very weak from exposure and lack of oxygen. Granddad was an animal lover, and immediately gave the puppy heart massage, while blowing air into its tiny nose. He was overjoyed to see the little guy open his eyes and begin breathing regularly.
He took the puppy home, where it thrived under his and Grandma’s love, and grew into a massive dog. They named him Boxy, because of how Granddad found him, and the older Boxy got the more intelligence he showed. But his biggest virtue was absolute loyalty. Whenever his masters stepped outside the house he was their ever-present security guard and companion.
When Granddad and Grandma left the farm for town, Boxy would take up a position on the porch, and would not move until he heard their vehicle coming down the road. When Grandma got out to open the gate to the garden around the house, Boxy would clear the yard of any possible danger — even the poultry pecking about. Then he would greet them with a wide grin and happy brown eyes, his tail swinging in wide arcs. After Granddad parked the vehicle, Boxy would personally escort them into the house.
As the number of farm murders increased in South Africa, we tried to convince Granddad to sell the farm, but he refused. It was where he and Grandma had spent their whole lives. We therefore suggested that he get another big dog for outside, and have Boxy start sleeping inside for better protection. Granddad bought a Rottweiler named Nero.
I was on my way home after visiting a client in the Northern Cape, when I suddenly felt the urge to visit my grandparents. It meant going 60 miles out of my way, but something drove me to it.
Thinking back, I should have started to worry when I didn’t get an answer to my cell-phone call. I thought they just could not hear their telephone ringing. When I stopped my car in front of the gate, I could tell something was wrong. The gate was open, I couldn’t see the dogs, the doors of the homestead were open, and Granddad’s vehicle was not in its shed. It felt as if an icy hand had gripped my heart. Cautiously, I walked towards the house, and then I saw Nero, lying at the corner of the house, shot dead.
At the stairs to the porch, I saw a young black man lying on his back, with his arms badly chewed and his throat bitten away. A broad trail of blood led from him, up to the porch. I followed this trail into the house to the kitchen, and that was where I found them. Granddad and Grandma were lying next to each other, their feet, hands, and heads crushed with a bloody hammer that was lying on a table. On top of them lay Boxy, as if he were trying to protect them from the horror. His hind quarters and rib cage were hacked to pieces with a machete, his right hind leg was hanging by a sinew, and the left side of his face, lying on Grandma’s chest, was attached to his skull by only a piece of skin.
It was Boxy who had left the trail of blood. What an effort it must have taken for him to crawl up those stairs, through the house, and all the way to the kitchen to join his beloved owners in death. I think Granddad must have still been alive when the dog joined them, as his broken hand was on Boxy’s head, and he and Boxy were looking into each other’s eyes.
White clouds of insanity
While the police scurry around looking for clues, I sit on the porch, shivering under a blanket during the hottest month of the year. A sympathetic sergeant has brought me a cup of sweet black tea, which I try to force down. It is as if I am part of a horror movie. The blood, the mutilated bodies, the silence over the whole place. Then I realize that even the birds are quiet. I try to stay calm, but there are white mists clouding any effort to think. As I try to make sense of this, I realize that I am insane with rage. I am looking for someone to kill in the most horrific way possible.
I wonder where God was, to allow two such beautiful and religious people to die in such a terrible way. “Where the hell were you? Why — why — why?” I say under my breath, but there is no answer. I look at the body of the unknown black man, and think: “I hope you died slowly, suffocating in your own blood, you bastard!”
Suddenly I realize I must let the family know. As if in a trance, I walk to the telephone and call my parents. When my mother answers the phone, I say: “Mom, I’ve got bad news.” She senses my distress and shouts: “God, Heinrich what’s wrong?”
“Mom, its Granddad and Grandma” I say, cringing inside, because I know how she must feel. Suddenly my dad is on the phone, and as always his voice brings some feeling of calmness. In a monotone I tell him what happened, and ask him not to bring Mom. She must not see this. He understands immediately. As I hang up and look around, I start wondering how I am going to muster the courage and strength to clean up this place. All the blood . . .
My thoughts are interrupted. They are putting the two broken bodies, wrapped in body bags, into a dirty police vehicle. I can’t believe that two, dear elderly people are being put into such a dirty vehicle, and the white clouds start to spread over my thoughts again. I experience the same, intense hatred. Those responsible must be punished! They must suffer!
The sergeant brings me a sandwich, but it tastes like rubber, and I put it down. I wonder if I will ever have an appetite again. Another vehicle comes to a halt in front of the house, and a friendly blonde woman gets out. She looks at me sympathetically, and tells me they clean up crime scenes, so I need not worry. As soon as the police are finished, they will clean up the house. I try to smile appreciatively.
Then I see two policemen dragging Granddad’s beloved dog from the house by his hind legs. I want to shout at them to treat the dog with respect, but I don’t. I just take Boxy from them, and carry him to the cooling room. Then I fetch the other dog. Suddenly I remember the livestock and start walking to the pens. All the time I fight the white clouds in my brain and in my thoughts. Then I see the blood on my clothes, and wonder how much of it is Granddad and Grandma’s.
Everything is quiet at the pens. All the cattle stand still, watching the house, as if they are afraid they will once again hear screams. As if I were sleep walking, I start to put fodder in the troughs, and fill up the watering bins.
The first relief from this terrible ordeal comes. The neighbors, Willie and Erica, come walking towards me. They have known me since I was a child, and suddenly I can’t hold back the tears. The two old people hold me to them as if I were their child, and I let out all my pain. The crying of a grown man has a forlornness of its own. It is filled with the anger, frustration and pain that you feel because you could not prevent this tragedy, because even your manliness was not enough to protect your loved ones. As the two old people hold me, I feel a bit of calm coming back. The white clouds of insanity are receding a bit — for now.
Today, Granddad, Grandma, and Boxy are buried together on the farm. It is where the willows hang over the stream that passes the house.