Come December 22nd, 9:30pm on the clock, I'd not long rolled in from a late shift at the store, heaving ques of impatient last minute Christmas shoppers and screaming brats wearing me out.
"Allite, lid? Got somethin' for yer here" He smirked.
Before I could respond, a large brown/white shape shot out from behind him and leapt at my waist, pushing me back against the wall. Two sets of blunt claws dug into the tops of my legs and a long thin snout burrowed roughly into my stomach. I panicked and instinctively pushed the animal away with open palms, but it instantly lurched forward again, saliva spraying everywhere, a low whine and nasty-looking teeth flashing menacingly up at me.
"Whoa...WHOA! SHIT!! Gerrit off! Gerrit OFF ME!" I shouted, desperately backing away as it reached for me again.
Dave sighed, and stepped forwards, smoothly gripping the animal by the scruff of what I guessed to be its neck and calmly pulling it away from me, its front legs raised in the air in protest, back legs struggling to maintain balance.
"S'alright, Snoop, S'alright lad.....C'mere, Snoop, C'Mere....." he whispered to it softly, and I peelled myself off the wall, brushing gooey dog saliva off my legs as I caught my breath.
"Christ, when d'yer get THAT?! Vicious beast, that...." I panted, pulling myself up straight.
With a simple tap on its nose, Dave brought the animal to strict attention and it instantly sat there between us, its mouth agape, tongue lolling, eyes still zeroing me with a fearsome intensity.
"Sorry, lid. He's not an angry dog, just loves meetin' new faces and investigatin' fresh smells. Not mine likes, just Rob's mutt, ya know Rob? Black dude with the Marley locks, lives further out in Kenny? Sells a draw. But been havin' issues with other tenants in his block, racial bollocks like. This pet is so soft, would never attack any intruder...More like let them rob his gaffe blind and let them stroke him...He's harmless..."
It was weird. Despite the brief moment of madness seconds previously, when I was flapping and screaming like the token early female death in a 80's slasher film, he had a disarmingly calming tone to him. I mean he looked powerful, useful in a fight. But he had people skills, he knew how to adapt to any situation and come out of it positive.
"Right....just a bit wild, innee? I mean...only really like small dogs, me....Soz, Da. Wanna brew?"
"Yeah, sound, lid...."
We sat in the living room. I composed myself, headed to the kitchen and knocked out two battered mugs of the drink that formed the British Empire."So.... Whatcha got for me there in that plassy bag then?" I asked Dave as I tentatively returned from the kitchen, always eyeing the alert mutt at the centre of my living room that silently beaded me with dark brown eyes, following every slow step I took towards the comfort of my TV-viewing armchair.
"Jus' a sec lid, show yer now" he grimaced in reply as he fished something from the battered Tesco bag...