There was more I could have done. There always is. It’s like the perfect comeback to that cunt on the bus or on the train or inside or outside the pub that you always think of way too late, after the incident’s over and they’re gone and you’re never going to see them again. This was the same. I should have done more. But it all happened so fast that the cliché is true – it was a blur. I don’t remember how old I was but I think I was probably in my early 20s, because you died when I was 24 and it was towards the end of your life. At least, I think it was. Maybe I was younger, in my late teens, but I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter anyway. The point remains the same. Every time we walked past this one house round the corner from mine, on Mandeville Road’s curved trajectory, these two dogs would yap crazily from behind the double-glazed window of their living room and press their noses into the glass and bare their teeth. It never bothered you but it annoyed the hell out of me. One afternoon as we walked by, the front door to that house was open. I didn’t think anything of it, until we walked closer and I heard the feral growls of these two dogs louder than usual. Before my brain realised what was happening, they’d set upon you, plunging their teeth into your stomach, because these little fuckers were smaller than you and they got underneath your legs – or one of them did, anyway. And I remember panicking as this silent fear rose up inside of me, manifesting itself in goosebumps and shivers because I was fucking scared and I didn’t know what to do. I remember shouting and yelling to scare them away, but at least one of the dogs still had its teeth plunged into you and you were squealing with pain. I don’t know how long it had been – mere seconds, probably, but everything that happened in fast-forward blur also took place in slow motion so it felt like minutes – but I heard you whimper and I saw the dog beneath you and I kicked that motherfucker. I didn’t connect properly but it did the trick and the dog – I don’t even know what type it was; I think a terrier of some sort, but looking at pictures of them on the internet now they look too cute, so maybe they were Chihuahuas, that most redundant and repugnant of breeds – yelped in semi-pain and ran back inside, followed by the other. Luckily, you had so much fur, their teeth didn’t do much damage, but as I walked past the house I was fuming. But I didn’t have the guts to confront the owner, who was just standing there. I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t hear or see what happened. But I did. And I should have given him the hell he deserved. Even today, the thought of it makes me wish I’d crushed the skulls of those little cunt dogs. It makes me want to strap their owners in a chair and stomp the life out of those dogs in front of their eyes and then burn that fucking house down and hear them scream in agony and watch as their skin charcoals and their bones become powder and ash. Because you were always there for me – unwavering in your love from the moment I held you in my lap on the long drive back to Canterbury from the kennel in Norfolk – and, eight years later, I still love you and miss you like hell and I can’t help but feel that, that day, I let you down. I’m sorry.