The dog obedience course is being held inside the history department of Summerville College, which is housed inside a literal temple:
It was about half the size of a city block at the base, and clicked upward in diminishing squares for three formidable stories, looking like a tremendous, ugly stone wedding cake. It was a notable claim to fame for Summerville College to have a genuine Mesopotamian ziggurat in the center of campus
Chapter 2 begins with Daisy and Bailey this time, as they try to find the auditorium among the large building. They run into a man:
“Are you two on your way to the obedience class?”
[…]”Um. . . yeah,” she said. “How’d you know?”
Bailey barked again, and the guy mt her eyes with a deadpan expression. “I possess a rare intuitive gift.”
Loving the snark.
The class is held in an “old-style” auditorium, “the kind with folding chairs”:
The windowless room had a square dias set up on shallow stone steps with a big — stone block? sacrificial altar? — podium in the center. Behind the podium hung a heavy black curtain, which obscured what Daisy figured was the other half of the room.
There are, notably, only seven chairs, five of which are filled (making Daisy number 6). In addition to Abby and Shar with their dogs, we are introduced to “a smiling teenage girl” named Gen with her foxhound, Ziggy. (Fun fact: my grandmother had a miniature dachshund named Ziggy. In his case, it was because he ran around a lot as a puppy.)
NPC 2 is “another teenage girl with a round face” carrying a fat poodle with a tiara and a diamond necklace. Immediately I cringe in preparation: she’s clearly The Fat One as well as The Spoiled One, and I was ready for a cross between Hanako from Persona 4 and Diamond Tiara from My Little Pony. Her name is Bun, and her dog is Baby:
The last girl isn’t named until much later in the chapter, but she’s known as “Mortuary Mina”:
a wraith of a girl with straight black hair and bug eyes
So… yeah. Her dog is a “creepy black chihuahua”, also left unnamed:
And finally, we meet Kammani herself:
A husky female voice came from behind the altar– no, podium, podium — and Daisy looked up to see a big-busted, wasp-waisted, dark-haired woman in a long, tight linen wrap dress emerge from the curtain and look down on them. She was extraordinarily beautiful in a piercing-dark-eyes, stern-full-lips, jaw-like-a-commando kind of way.
Kammani seems displeased with the empty chair, prompting this literary gem from Daisy:
Although Daisy didn’t really believe that the woman could shoot death lasers with her eyes, she kinda believed that the woman could shoot death lasers with her eyes.
Although the sentence wasn’t repetitive and contradictory, it was kind of repetitive and contradictory. Also. Is anyone else picturing eyeballs pulling the trigger on a laser pistol? I think the more common term is “from her eyes”.
We meet Kammani’s assistant, Noah, who is actually teaching the class (and who I believe was the snarker earlier). Then this happens:
Daisy knelt down next to Noah as he put one hand on the tip of Bailey’s ear, rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger. Bailey sat down and panted quietly as though good behavior was somthing with which he had a passing acquaintance.
[…]”It’s just that he’s impossible no matter what I do, but you rub his ear for half a second and suddenly he’s calm.”
“It’s a pressure point.”
After I picked myself up off the floor from hysterical laughter, I decided to do some cursory research to see if that works. Anecdotal evidence indicates it can be soothing, but come on. A hyperactive Jack Russell who can’t stop doing backflips suddenly behaves perfectly for a complete stranger after half a second? How’d he even get hold of his ear in the first place? Lol. It’s not magic.
Kammani arrives with a tray of drinks, and insists that they will drink.
“You will drink,” […]
“Why?” Daisy sniffed at the cup .”What’s in it?”
Kammani stared down at Daisy; she seemed the type of woman who was not accustomed to being questioned. Daisy squared her shoulders, looked Kammani in the eye, and spoke slow and loud.
“What. Is. In. It?”
Go Daisy! Kammani finally says it’s a tonic, and Daisy and Abby both drink.
We cut to Shar’s perspective; she doesn’t care about all this dog crap, so she’s chasing Kammani down to find out her sources. As a side note, is it strange that she’s “doing the citations”? Because you’d think you’d keep a list of works cited when, you know, writing the book, not come up with a whole book and then track down sources later. But whatever.
Kammani has two dogs, Bikka and Umma, which are “Mesopotamian Temple Dogs”, thought to be extinct. This is not a real thing, this is tied to the fake religion invented for the book as far as I can tell. They look:
like tiny tan giraffes with fluffy white pom-pom crowns and little grinning faces
Kammani insists that Shar drink the tonic if she wants to see the source: a huge bas-relief of a naked goddess and her priestesses, with an inscription marking her to be Kammani Gula. This is where there’s a blending of actual known religious practices with fiction; Gula was a Mesopotamian goddess, and there’s reason to believe dogs were worshipped in connection with her, but the Kammani aspect is purely fictional.
While we’re on a side note, this was the disclaimer for the book:
Although we did extensive research for this book, we also created the history of Kamesh to fit our story. Nothing in this novel should be taken as historical fact. Kamesh never existed. Nobody worshipped Kammani Gula. As far as we know, there were no dying and resurrected kings in ancient Turkey. We made it up. It’s fiction, we can do that.
I can’t decide if I’m amused or offended at the arrogant tone here. Also. “Extensive research” my ass.
Anyway! Shar’s never seen this inscription, despite the fact that her grandfather moved the temple from Turkey (apparently by disassembling it, moving the stones, then reassembling it. Why? No friggan clue. Because plot I guess.)
The figure next to the goddess was male. He was tall, looming over her on the wall, and his forehead was broad, crossed with commalike stone curls, and his eyes—
Here things get a little weird. There’s a man carved into the wall as well, and Shar becomes instantly obsessed with him. She even drinks her tonic, forgetting she’d decided not to. For the rest of the chapter, she keeps thinking about the man and blushing, ignoring the information she came here to seek. She seems to take personal offense to learning that Kammani Gula sacrificed the man, the King of Jamesh, called Samu-la-el, for the good of the people, and resurrected him.
He was beautiful and that bitch Kammani Gula had killed him.
She even seems to be picturing him as a replacement for her ill-suited boyfriend:
Not the kind of guy who’d give a woman a taser
He’s a carving on a wall! A mythological figure! But for some reason she’s incredibly hot and bothered about him.
Finally, Abby’s section. We learn that Daisy is blond and “tiny” and lives on “the third floor” (presumably of Abby’s new home, not of the temple?), making Abby her new landlady. Kammani declares that Daisy, Abby, and “Sharrat” will be friends. She also gives them some tonic to take home, after they decide hey, friendship sounds okay, and maybe movie night? The class breaks up, and each girl goes home alone….
And then things get weird.
Abby looked down at Bowser. “Let’s blow this Popsicle stand. We got cookies to make.”
“Cookies,” Bowser barked, and Abby jumped, startled.
Wait, what? I thought this was just a lighthearted romcom?
“This is a very weird place, Bowse,” she said absently, rubbing his massive head.
He looked up at her out of his dark, wise eyes. “You’re telling me,” he growled.
And Abby let out a scream
Apparently there’s talking dogs! And they talk in sans-serif font! WTF.
Daisy’s second section of the chapter opens with, what else, Bailey dragging her down the street. She snaps her heel, and decides to drink some more of that delicious tonic before she heads home.
“These classes better work, or I’m going to throw myself in the river.”
“River!” Bailey barked.
[…]”Did you just. . .? No, you didn’t.” She tried to relax her shoulder muscles. “Because that’s impossible.”
Daisy concludes that she’s drunk. Thankfully, Noah comes to her rescue regarding the shoes, since he knows a way to get back to her place through the park so she doesn’t have to walk barefoot on pavement. Daisy definitely seems smitten with him, laughing at things she admits are not funny. And then, the Obligatory Mental Illness Shaming: Mina is Noah’s cousin.
“She’s just. . . no offense, but she seems–”
“Insane?” Noah nodded. “She is. My father got out of the family with his sanity mostly intact, although he’s doing this comb-over thing that has be concerned.” He nudged her with his elbow. “I just threw my family’s crazy closet wide open for you. I usually don’t let women meet Mina until never.”
Twitch. What’s up with that, anyway? Is this a staple of the genre?
Anyway, Noah plays music. That’ll be important later. He also gives Daisy a piggyback, which is less important but a lot more fun. End chapter!