Elizabeth 'Becky' Simmons had what was shaping up to be a marvelous October! It was all coming to exactly the head that she wanted and she was immensely pleased by it.
In the first place, she had finally, Yah! Finally!, finished her dissertation, defended it and had gotten her long awaited and slaved for PhD. The issue of Fractal Geometry, which had dominated her life for so long, could be put a bit aside and she could get on with living.
That was the first place. Of course there was also the second place, and in the second place, she'd been granted tenure at the university and received a promotion to full professor. That was another 'Yah' for Becky, lustily shouted in the privacy of her shower and heartily felt.
An only daughter, Becky was her parents pride for as long as she could remember. She grew up with a great relationship to both her Mom and her Dad, a very close relationship.
She had inherited a bit of her own physical makeup from each of her parents. She had her Mom's looks and hair, dark with reddish highlights, which she wore on the short side. "Less muss and fuss," she would constantly tell herself.
She was fairly tall and lithe, like her Dad though. She had been, in college, athletic, playing for the women's basketball team and track. She still maintained a good habit of working out and keeping herself in shape.
Whereas her Mom, Mona, was 'zaftig', as the Germans were wont to put it, short and roundish, with large breasts and also a large derrire, Becky had the same 'zaftig' kind of features, but in her case, they were tempered by her Dad's tallness.
The result for Becky was the best of all possible physical worlds, as far as her physical features were concerned.
She was a musician, taking to the piano at an early age, and continuing to love the music, and music making as an expression of the mathematical world that she'd come to love, through her studies and the course of her advanced degrees and final PhD. She saw an intimate connection between the two worlds and music filled her.
And she loved animals. Her house companions were a very loving cat named 'Constable' and a joyful, full of life, tail wagging golden lab named 'Whistler'. Her house companions reflected her love of art, being named for two of her favorite painters: James McNeill Whistler, and John Constable.
Mona and John Simmons had wondered long and hard about what kind of gift would be appropriate for Becky's coming degree, once she'd settled in at the university, teaching Math and Physics. Their decision, communicated to Becky over a particularly lovely dinner that she'd made them at her apartment, was to offer to pay for half of any house that Becky wished to buy.
John had gone on, on that occasion, to explain that both he and Mona knew Becky well enough to know that she was independent enough to want to do some of the providing for her own home but the gift that they intended would give her an absolutely free hand in home selection.
Becky was overjoyed at the proposed gift and began the exciting adventure of house seeking in earnest that very month. The search was fairly long, and involved her seeing almost 30 homes before opting for a large brick beauty that stood in a remote part of the city with few neighbors.
Becky had certainly had boyfriends, no 'girlfriends' as it happened, but she'd never seriously met anyone who competed with her love of Fractal Geometry, the piano and Whistler and Constable, neither the painters nor the dog and cat.
She was certainly not celibate but she refused to participate in the mating rituals that she witnessed, whenever she went out for a drink with friends. She tended to be a bit shy, and somewhat retiring, until you got to know her well, and she was busy tending to her own life.
She did keep, in a drawer by her bed, a canopy bed that was one of the bright spots in her life, a vibrator, which she called 'the man killer'. She never really knew why she'd called it that but that was the 'lovely purple beauty's' name, as she called it often enough.
She was certainly outgoing enough to meet and become friendly with her new neighbors. She had neighbors only on one side, since her house purchase included land to the right and north of her own house. She had neighbors next to her but was cut off a bit from them by hedges, though they did share contiguous back yards on the south side of her property.
The folks next door were the Smiths. Jake Smith was a construction worker, from what Becky could discern, and they had a little boy, Bernard, whom they called Bucky. Bucky was a rather intelligent 11 year old. The mother of the family, Suzanne, was a thin blond, who, to Becky's way of thinking, looked rather sickly.
After moving into her dream house, and beginning the process of getting it set up in the fashion that she wished, a process that was encouraged and gladly aided by her Mom, and certainly indulged by her Dad, a few things happened that set events on the courses that they would eventually take.
There was first of all, the relationship between Bucky and her 'pals', Constable and Whistler. It became apparent to Becky, through a conversation with Bucky, that Suzanne was allergic to animals and they couldn't have any.
It happened on a Saturday, when Becky was home. She was puttering around in the back yard and heard Whistler give a 'woof', which she knew meant that friends were near. She looked over and there, in a gap in the hedges, stood Bucky.
"Hi!" she said.
"Is he friendly?" Bucky asked.
"The world's friendliest!" was her reply.
"Can I pet him?" he asked, and then, remembering his manners said:
"Oh, I'm Bernard from next door." (She would only find out later that he thought it not quite polite to introduce himself by his nickname.)
"Hi, Bernard," she said, "This is Whistler. Come on in and he'll be glad to have another friend."
Bucky went into the yard and Whistler began to all but vibrate in the spot where he was sitting. He took the petting that Bucky did as only an outgoing dog can, and the two of the were instantly friends.
Bucky took time with Whistler and gave his a good going over, and then cautiously went to where Constable was sunning himself. He allowed Bucky to muss his fur a little and pet him also. But it seemed obvious that the main attraction was Whistler.
Becky watched, as Bucky petted Whistler one last time and gave the happy dog a kiss on the head, causing the tail movement to speed up by huge amounts.
"Come and spend time with him any time," she said.
Then before he left he said to her simply, in the innocent way that only a child could:
"My Mommie's sick."
"Oh," Becky said, "I'm sorry to hear that. Does it help you to spend some time with Whistler?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said, smiling. "It does; thank you. And with you too!" he said, Becky's response, when she'd discovered from the little boy this one salient, and sad fact of his life was a simple one: she invited Bernard, she'd not yet learned to call him 'Bucky', to be great friends with her Whistler and Constable.
He said a very kind 'thank you', and vanished, leaving Becky tearing at the eyes.
He came the next day, and gradually learned what Becky's schedule was, so that he could be on hand to spend some time with her, although she secretly believed that the real draw, at least at first, was Whistler.
He and the dog became great friends and it even became possible, when Becky was out walking Whistler, that he could go along and hold the leash, leading Whistler himself.
This major step forward came a day or so after the next major step in Becky's acquaintance with the new neighbors. It was a sunny day and Bucky was playing with Whistler, when they heard a call:
"Oh," he said, "That's me! Bucky!"
Then the caller appeared at the hedge and said:
"Hey, pal, what you doin'?"
"I invited him to spend some time with me Whistler, she indicated the dog, and Constable, she now indicated the sunning cat," Becky said, walking forward and introducing herself.
"Jake Smith," he said, taking the hand that she offered.
Becky could see that Jake was a bit younger than she and strongly built. It did turn out that he worked as a construction foreman.
"Just getting to know Bucky here," she said, using his nickname for the first time, and glancing at him, getting a twenty four caret grin from the boy.
"It's kind of you to let him come over," Jake said, "He ... we can't have animals and he loves them so; it's my wife..." but he faltered at that point and Becky simply said:
Then she went on: "It's a joy to have him come over; any time that I'm around and Whistler and Constable are available, he's welcome."
"Thank you," he said, showing by his face alone that her offer was very comforting and a relief.
"Don't stay too long, pal," Jake said, leaving, and thanking Becky again.
She turned then to Bucky and grinned.
Bucky, whose name was now known to Becky, stopped to giggle about their two names:
"Aren't we a pair?" she said at the time, "Becky and Bucky!"
"Yeah," He answered, "We'll be best pals!"
"You bet," she said in return, "Just like you, Whistler and Constable."
And that did reflect the truth of the situation. Whistler loved Bucky flat out.
So, it was shortly after that, when Bucky began to take walks with Becky and Whistler.
A few days later, Becky baked some cookies and took them next door to the Smith's. She was greeted at the door by a frail looking but smiling Suzanne. Becky introduced herself and Suzanne asked her in saying:
.... There is more of this story ...