One grim bright morning, Captain Nitty was walking along an imposing and expansive boulevard when one of his lungs collapsed.
“Oof!” he gasped, before crumpling in an untidy angular heap upon the paving slabs. As he fell, his captainy cap fell off his head, and, landing on its brim, rolled into the gutter, where it was worried by a stray dog.
The dog had strayed from its owner, who was known to Captain Nitty, though the dog was not. Captain Nitty had what is known as dog-blindness, in that he could never perceive any dog with any of his five senses. So, even had he had his wits about him, rather than being sprawled gasping on the pavement, he would not have been aware of the dog gnawing and pawing his cap.
Later, in a bed on a ward in the clinic to where he had been ferried by a rickety and inefficient ambulance, Captain Nitty asked the clinic chaplain, who was sitting at his bedside telling the seven last words from the cross on his rosary beads, where his cap was. The chaplain replied in Latin, a language with which Captain Nitty was unfamiliar. What he said was, “Do not interrupt me with questions about your cap when I am praying for the salvation of your immortal soul through the words of Christ in his last extremity”.
Meanwhile, the dog had carried the cap, in its mouth, away from the boulevard to a patch of gorse and scrub over by the viaduct. Here, it lost interest in the cap and deposited it in a puddle. Then it scampered off to frighten some tiny tots gathered around a spooky fathomless inky-black pond.
Captain Nitty made a miraculous recovery and that very same day, at around teatime, was back on his feet. He discharged himself from the clinic and went in search of his cap. Does it bring tears to your eyes, the thought of him, bare-headed and desperate, looking in all the wrong places, plagued by invisible dogs, day after grim bright day, fruitlessly, fruitlessly, fruitlessly? It should.
Dog-blindness is all well and good; but how much more enviable the man who, despite being able to descry such creatures, remains undetectable to their own myriad and brutish senses.
Perhaps something could be done for Captain Nitty’s dog blindness. Someone could train up a small woodland creature to alert him to the presence of hounds. Some sort of Dog-Seeing-Eye.