She looked lovingly into his eyes as she said “I do” to the man of her dreams. She floated in and out of the moment and could barely hear the thunderous applause and jubilation that followed the Priests “you may kiss the bride”. As she signed the statutory “Form E”, and St Joseph’s Marriage Certificate, she smiled. Her life had fallen into place at last.
Her billionaire husband, Ernest, was a good man and she had not felt the need to saddle him with tales of her morally bankrupt past or the tales of her hood and the gang. Like Pilate, she had washed off the blood, but with more than five million naira. She had nothing to fear anymore as she would be living in Germany with her husband.
At the end of the signing, they poured out onto the stairs of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral to take pictures. The sun shone in great splendour and the diamond stones on her immaculate white gown which was hand-made, sparkled with blinding brilliance. She was a beautiful bride. She looked at Ernest and smiled as she saw the light in his eyes, and love dancing on his face as he held her left hand and caressed the ring finger where the three carat, heart shaped diamond nestled in it’s setting on the ring.
“Just the couple”, she heard the photographer saying and the friends and relatives dispersed. “Sellout Photography” was one of the best and had charged a fortune, but was worth every penny. The dark young photographer who always exhibited professionalism was wearing a suit and could have passed for the groom. “Stay still and say cheeeeese”, the young man instructed cheerfully after showing them a pose. The couple broke into smiles, filled with promises of the future.
He looked into the telescope and adjusted it till his main focus was on the bride. He knew how important the day was to her and he had to take a perfect shot. He also knew that the red background would contrast nicely with her white. When he got the exact focus he needed, he clicked.
She saw the light from the shutter of the photographer and almost immediately, felt a sudden pressure just below her left breast and sensed herself falling and unable to stop herself till she landed on her back. She clutched the place she had felt the pressure and then bolts of searing pain engulfed her. She was in a state of total confusion as she looked about. There was pandemonium, and everyone was scrambling about. The photographer’s equipment was scattered on the ground and she could hear the loud crack of gunshots from Ernest’s security men. She felt warm liquid and brought the fingers she had been nursing the pain with to her face and saw the red liquid. She opened her mouth to scream, but could only let out guttural groans.
He was right about the red background. The sea of blood had engulfed part of her white gown and made a beautiful bloody contrast. This one was for his sisters death, it was personal. He saw the security men firing shots randomly into the air. He had few minutes before they would cross the street and make their way to the uncompleted three storey building he was aiming from. He quickly packed the M24 and made his way down the flight of stairs, into the waiting sedan and sped away with the gang.
The sun shone into her still eyes and the wind echoed the wails of her family and well wishers, while Ernest sat on the floor and stared into space, utterly dumbstruck.