Today, as I trudged through the permeating Essex drizzle of a soul-destroying Wednesday morning, ennui wrapped around my soul and dragging me down like a brass diving suit, I was nearly savaged by a dog.
The owner, a stocky, oriental-looking fellow who I thought resembled "4th Gang Member" from every Hollywood gangster film ever made, had elected not to follow the standard convention of putting a collar and lead on the dog, choosing instead to let it run rampant around the streets, slavering and snapping at innocent passers-by.
Coat dripping with rain, man-bag slung diagonally across me, I just wanted to get to work with the minimum of fuss and spend the day trudging ceaselessly towards the sweet release of death. Instead, I had to deal with Triad-Boy and Cujo.
As the dog came running towards me, eyes fiery with hatred and blood lust, I immediately sensed it didn't want to "just say hello" but had other more nefarious plans coursing through its thick melon of a skull.
The owner shouted something at the dog like, "Oi!" but the animal, virtually smacking his lips by this point, disregarded his master's command and continued to approach, claws clicking on the wet concrete.
As the dog got within a foot of me, I froze, hoping that he might become confused and suddenly think "Well goodness me, there was I thinking that I'd seen a delicious, bipedal morsel just ripe for some early morning nomming, and it seems I was quite incorrect in this regard! In my haste to sink my teeth into a delicious stranger, I appear to have mistaken this impressively hewn statue of what must surely be a Greek God with a bedraggled member of the public. In all honesty, I feel slightly stupid for making this extremely basic, easily avoided error of judgement."
Unfortunately, I think I overestimated this particular beast's reasoning faculties. Instead, he ploughed on regardless, leaping up, mouth wide, and planting his front paws on my thigh.
It seemed like an eternity, but was less than a second. We regarded each other, hunter and prey, he with demonic malice, I with trouser-fouling terror. Although I couldn't smell it, I imagined that his breath reeked of rotten meat and cigarette butts that he'd snuffled off the ground, like a truffle-seeking, rage-pig. In all honesty, my breath probably smelt much the same, if not worse, so I deemed it unfair to criticise him on this minor point of personal hygiene.
At that moment, just as the dog was about to rend the flesh from my body, the owner shouted "Don't even think about it!".
This bemused me slightly.
First, the statement would presuppose that the dog had some elaborate thought process going on. I'm fairly confident that this slavering hell-hound had no subtle modus operandi or carefully reasoned rationale behind his actions other than a pretty fundamental aspiration to "KILL THE MAN".
Second, what kind of thing is that to say to a bloody dog? Personally, I might have chosen, "No!" said very sternly whilst administering a series of violent kicks to the genitalia. Alternatively, I might have bellowed, "Come here!" while staring menacingly and flexing a broken car aerial between my clenched fists. But no, 4th Gang Member chose the bizarre "Don't even think about it" as his opening gambit in what was obviously a mighty power struggle that had been ongoing for some months.
Amazingly, however, it actually worked. The dog stopped, teeth bared, claws digging into my leg, and fixed me with a malevolent gaze which seemed to say, "You win today, fuckface, but I'll be back, don't you worry. Keep looking over your shoulder you tubby bitch."
And with that, he hopped back to the ground and stalked away, shoulders rolling like a silverback gorilla.
The owner curtly threw a "Sorry mate" in my direction and carried on walking, possibly late for a drug deal or something involving a quantity of illegal firearms.
I continued on my way to work, slightly shaken and deep in thought.
And then the awful, crushing realisation hit me - I had come very close to being successfully mauled! I might have needed a rabies injection, or reconstructive surgery! I might even have required a state of the art prosthetic hand capable of crushing steel bars like bread sticks, impressing all those around me who would say in awed whispers, "Who is that man?", receiving the reply, "That's Dan, the man with the iron fist."
Men would want to be me, women would want to be with me. Finally, my life would have turned around and I wouldn't be a massive loser anymore. Everyone would know my name and utter it in hushed tones. I would never have to buy another drink for the rest of my days. Whilst walking down the street, people would nod respectfully. I would be 'The Man'.
But, of course, it didn't happen. The dog was successfully lured away and I continued my journey. Another opportunity for greatness snatched away.
I briefly considered pursuing the dog and pushing a disposable lighter up its bottom in a bid to anger it into violent retribution but, looking back up the road, I could see neither it nor its owner.
Arriving at work, I conjectured that, tragically, this failed attack was probably going to be the highlight of my day.
I was right.
EDIT: Just re-read this today. Nearly a 1000 words on not being bitten by a dog. Hopefully, if I'm not bitten by a dog again tomorrow and for the next six months, I should have enough material for a book by the summer. Woo and yay for pointless bloggery!