The Girls

from This is Not the Tropics

Becca liked dogs.  She might even have called herself a dog person, but she couldn’t quite figure out why Professor Blakely had asked her to watch his dogs while he was in Italy for a conference during the week of fall break.  Only later did she realize she hadn’t been his first choice.  Of course not.  What had she been thinking?  Everyone on the small campus of Pilgrim’s College knew how much Professor Blakely loved his dogs.  They were his children.  Some of the guys in the fraternities liked to joke that they were more than his children.  Professor Blakely was so closely associated with his dogs that he was known around campus, when the students talked among themselves, as Dog-boy.  As the dog-sitting gig got closer, Becca heard from others who had done it before.  “Wow.  You sure you want to do that?” a guy in her Advanced Theater Design class asked.  “You’ll be cooped up in that house, and . . .”  He didn’t go on.  It was like this with everyone, a strange reticence just at the moment they were about to give her details.  When she pressed for more, they all shrugged.  “You’ll see,” was the reply.  All Becca knew was that she needed a letter of recommendation from Professor Blakely if she wanted to get into graduate school.