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Chasing the Best Days

Chasing the Best Days

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Chasing the Best Days

Length:
162 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 14, 2019
ISBN:
9780463693636
Format:
Book

Description

Greg is a divorced dad who spends most of his time out on the golf course. He and his playing partners at Corona Vista Country Club get drunk and gamble every day after work. But Greg's foreign girlfriend Karla—who happens to be half his age—also demands plenty of attention.

Frustrated with his job and still haunted by the ghosts of his divorce, Greg is desperate for something new. He and his pals Dan and Walt hope the new startup they're scheming over happy hour pitchers of beer will be their ticket out of the 9-5 rut.

As he fights through crowded Los Angeles freeways and frantically looks for golf deals online, Greg also strives to connect with his sons while fending off the ex-wife—and at the end of the day, just try to make a few putts.

Author Philip Wyeth, whose previous two novels take place in a political dystopia, embraces a new challenge with “Chasing the Best Days.” The story is darkly comical but always searching, and ultimately paints a sympathetic portrait of one modern American man struggling to keep himself together while making ends meet. (39,500 words.)

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 14, 2019
ISBN:
9780463693636
Format:
Book

About the author

Philip Wyeth grew up in Virginia but has lived in Los Angeles for many years. He cites Heinrich von Kleist and Ambrose Bierce as inspirations due to the avant-garde nature of their fiction. He strives to be as prescient in his own work.Also a lifelong fan of heavy metal music and its many sub-genres, Wyeth tries to infuse his novels with comparable levels of intensity, independence, and larger-than-life visions.

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Chasing the Best Days - Philip Wyeth

CHASING THE BEST DAYS

Philip Wyeth

Copyright © 2018 Philip Wyeth. All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition

Cover design by Philip Wyeth.

www.philipwyeth.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Also by this author:

Reparations USA

Reparations Mind

Reparations Core

Hot Ash and the Oasis Defect

Dedicated to

patient fathers,

remembered grandfathers,

and all the male relatives and great friends

that a man encounters on this journey through life.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. In the Money

2. The Game

3. Light Lunch

4. Among Friends

5. Bold Steps

6. Showdown

7. Cleaning House

8. The Startup

9. Going Rogue

10. Safe Harbor

11. Restless

12. Lifelines

13. The Star

14. Mover and Shaker

15. The Boss

16. Up the River

17. Grip It and Rip It

18. The Gauntlet

19. The Depths

20. Like Old Times

21. Best Days

22. Enough

23. The Swing

About the Author

1. IN THE MONEY

Eight feet. Scooting left. You know this green, got to hit it a bit firm. All eyes on me now. Time to shut these guys up. Come on, lemme see that money... Yes!

Greg leaned over to pick his golf ball out of the hole, then high-fived Steve.

Nice birdie, amigo! Steve said. Looks like drinks are on you.

Greg did a silly dance and sang, I'm in the money!

Tommy and Jaime also shook hands and patted him on the back.

Didn't think you were gonna make that, Tommy said with a grin.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Greg said as the group stepped off the green. It was just long enough to make me think, even though we've played this hole, what, a hundred times?

Definitely a lot! Come on, let's head in...

The clubhouse bar was buzzing. Groups of men wearing bright golf shirts sat around tables that were covered with glasses, scorecards, and appetizers.

Greg and his entourage leaned onto the bar.

Afternoon, gentlemen, the bartender said. How'd we play today?

Armen, what's up? Tommy called out.

You know me, just keeping the waters of life flowing.

Good, good. Well, Mister Clutch here just birdied eighteen, so he's buying. I'll take a Bud Light. Oh, and pour me a shot of Jack too.

You got it. Guys?

Greg said, Same for me, then looked over at the others. Jaime, Steve? Order up.

After they sat down, Greg leaned back and spread his legs wide. Okay, boys. Cheers to a good round. Now pay up!

Cheers!

One by one his playing partners opened their wallets and tossed cash onto the table. He lazily grabbed at the money, made a visual inspection, then tucked it under his sunglasses.

Soon they ordered another round of drinks and started mingling with other members of the club—players who had also finished their rounds, as well as married couples having dinner. Club staff who were making the rounds also came over to say hello.

Greg absorbed these warm vibes as the alcohol flowed through his body. He felt protected and far away from all of his daily stresses. Life was good up at the club—and today he was in the black.

His phone buzzed on the table in front of him. He set his drink down and tilted the screen up. A text message from Karla said, I'm home. Thinking of u...

Greg flipped the phone on its face and rejoined the conversation. Ten minutes later he felt it vibrate again, but this time ignored it. More drinks arrived, then slowly the dining room began to clear out. It was nearly eight o'clock.

One quick glance at his phone while he gathered his things showed that there were now five other texts from Karla. He typed on my way, but then paused before sending the reply.

How many drinks deep was he? Should he risk the drive? It was only a few miles to their apartment, but the mountain roads were curved and not well lit. He could ask Karla to come pick him up, or take an Uber. But neither of these options worked—he had an early client meeting in the morning and didn't want to waste time picking up his car beforehand.

The hell with it, he muttered and sent the text.

When he got home he saw Karla lying on the couch in sweats watching TV. There was a bottle of red wine sitting on the coffee table in front of her, as well as her phone and some snacks. Her attention remained on the screen.

Hey girl, Greg said. What's going on?

Her expression changed to a pout and she grabbed a handful of potato chips. I don't hear from you. I get worried!

Baby, I was celebrating. I won today! And I knew I was gonna be back soon.

But still, it is easy to type these few words.

Phones are supposed to make life easier—not be a leash!

Aw, sad doggie? She sat up on her knees, playfully holding her hands out like paws.

Greg came nearer, saying, Did you make any progress on that training video?

Noooo. I couldn't focus. Maybe you can help me more?

Who's applying to be a golf pro, you or me? he said, laughing.

Don't be mean! Or you can't have any wine.

But there's so much left. Here, let me help you with it...

He sat down on the couch and began to caress her legs while they watched TV. She brought the wine glass to his lips and he drank, then she leaned in and kissed him.

Despite all the little dramas, Greg said a prayer to God every night that he got to sleep with this buxom Croatian woman who was half his age. Karla, the unexpected gift that had fallen into his lap after fifteen years of divorce hell. The forbidden romance between Corona Vista Country Club member and staff.

It was glorious taking possession of her body time and time again, and he tried not to think about how she was only a few years older than his son Peter.

But life so rarely went according to plan that Greg had learned to just enjoy the good things as they came along, because eventually the bottom always dropped out. Not that Greg did much to help his own cause.

How many crazy women had he dated before Karla? From the forty-something bleach blond who had more ex-husbands than kids, to the naive thirty-five-year-old with the mind of a child, he couldn't seem to hook up with anyone normal.

It had been a twenty-five-year streak of bad luck, ever since he first set foot in Los Angeles.

No one had ever warned Greg not to fall in love with the first woman he met in a new city. But even if they had, what young man was equipped to defend himself against the California Dream? His mind was filled with old-fashioned East Coast values, and he had not been prepared for Robin, the horse-riding sandy brunette who went down on him during their first date.

He still remembered it clearly. That magical night down in Redondo Beach, the harbor lights twinkling in the distance, her whole body wiggling around in the front seat of his car. He with his hands clasped behind his head and feeling on top of the world—because he had officially arrived.

Greg didn't realize until many years later that this had been the pivotal fork in the road of his life. At the time it was impossible to see clearly through all the hormones, new city excitement, and the deep need for validation that Robin offered so willingly. He had just never been able to slow things down and really think before taking the plunge.

On the surface it had all looked so promising. Preparing to attend law school and married to a woman hotter than any of the girls he knew back home. It was not the worst place to be at age twenty-seven. Two years later Peter was born, and three years after that Nick came along. He was a real family man—until one day Robin said she wasn't happy, and the avalanche began.

Greg heard the alarm go off at five-thirty. Karla's hand was on his chest. He eased himself off the bed and gave her exposed foot a squeeze before stepping into the bathroom.

Head feels okay. Gotta get out of here before she wakes up, wants to talk. Maybe just grab a coffee in town. Then we'll see if these idiots are any closer to settling. Or not. Pay for my golf with your family feud, I don't give a shit.

We've all got our own boxes of paperwork. At least it isn't me sitting on the wrong side of the desk anymore.

2. THE GAME

But I want that goddamn house!

Teresa Simms stared daggers across the table.

Hannah Simms laughed back at her, saying, You aren't even a blood relative. How can you possibly...

Derrick, Teresa's husband, brought a hand to his mouth. If I may, he said, the building in question does have a significant... a special place in our hearts. What, uh, concessions would we need to, er, make in order to...

To take it? Hannah snapped.

No, sis. I wouldn't think of it in those terms.

"I know you don't. But she does."

My god! Teresa screamed. "Why can't I get any respect around here? I've been a part of this family for almost twenty years. I loved your father."

Oh, give me a break! Hannah had nearly come out of her chair.

In the sudden silence that followed, Greg looked over at his boss Lou Refkin. The older man cleared his throat. He said, Ladies and gentlemen, I know that passions are running high right now. But we've got a lot of ground to cover today, so could I ask that we set this particular detail aside until later?

The five Simms family members looked around the conference table at each other. One by one they nodded their heads in agreement.

Thank you, Lou said. Now...

Greg turned a page in his binder, ready to offer any fine details when prompted.

The Simms family. Inheritors of a California mining dynasty, whose leader Alexander had died three years prior at the ripe old age of eighty-six. Now his surviving relatives were at war over his sixty-million-dollar estate.

Mr. Refkin seemed to have an entire Rolodex full of these types. People who had never personally struggled, but were willing to fight to the death over someone else's money—and all the while indifferent to the staggering attorney's fees they were racking up.

Greg couldn't imagine what that kind of luxury was like—but their malice was something he understood quite well.

At first Robin had been open to a quick, amicable split, but Greg soon learned of the powerful spells that divorce lawyers whispered into the ears of still-attractive women about to reenter the singles market.

Promises that if wives alleged abuse, emotional suffering, or just kept delaying, they could collect a little more. Some extra money for miscellaneous monthly expenses, or a larger percentage of child custody—always pushing and angling for just a little more.

Greg had watched in dismay as everything he worked for was torn to shreds in the agonizing quiet of a law office. With every flutter of the page, thousands of hours of his future labor were allocated and divvied up. One little form signed by a judge, and he could be legally barred from seeing his sons.

The whole process was so shocking and demoralizing, that one day Greg seemingly awoke from a daze to

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