EXCERPT from 46% Better Than Dave by Alastair Puddick

A Sample from Chapter 8

“No offence, mate, but when was the last time you ran further then the end of the street?” said Charlie. “Let alone 10k, jumping over electric fences.”

“Screw you,” I said. “I’ll have you know I used to run all the time. I was pretty good. And I’ve run loads of 10k races in the past. This dirty mother don’t sound too bad!”

“Oh, you haven’t run a 10k in years though, love,” said Catherine, changing tack and trying to bargain with me.

Et tu, you traitorous wife, I thought.

“No, but it’s just like riding a bike, isn’t it? I can quickly get back into it.” My words were really slurring now. “Besides, I’ve been looking to get fit again. This could be exactly the motivation I need to get in shape. When did you say, three months? Piece of piss. I’ll be running 10k, dodging mimes and hopping over eclectic fences before you know it! Then I’ll be round for my hundred quid.”

What the hell was I doing? I had the perfect way to get out of this. I could have blamed it on too much drink. I could have played it off as a big joke, without losing face. But I couldn’t help it. I just dug myself deeper and deeper.

“Come on, Dave, don’t be silly,” said Catherine, her eyes imploring.

“Silly?” I said. “Silly? I’ll show you who’s silly. I will sign up for this race. And I’ll raise loads of money for charity. And I’ll probably fucking even win it, too. That’ll bloody show you, won’t it?”

The mood changed instantly. The gentle mocking ceased. An awkward silence hung between us. People sat uncomfortably looking at their shoes, the stars, the drinks in their hands.

“You know… you move in here,” I slurred, pointing at New Dave, my head swimming and my hand wobbling, “and you’re like the best bloody thing since sliced cheese. Er… bread, I mean. The best thing since cheese bread. And I’m sick of it, actually. Because you’re not better than me. Not really.”

The words were coming thick and fast. I’d tapped into a rich vein of resentment.

“You know… you’re a man,” I continued rambling. “And I’m a man. And you’re a man. And… you know, other men can do equally… And it’s not about how much you’ve got… or the size of your… barbecue… or how nice your hair is… or how many fucking beer fridges you’ve got… What I mean is…” And then the words just stopped, my train of thought derailing violently.

Everyone looked on curiously, wondering if I was going to continue my tirade. But my brain had crashed. My mouth was no longer receiving any signal.

Another very awkward silence.

“Well, if you’re up for it, then I think that’s brilliant,” said New Dave, overenthusiastically. “Hey, we could even train together, if you fancy it?”

“There you go. At least someone believes in me. Thank you, David.” I turned to look at Catherine. I thought I was sneering and delivering menace with my eyes. But I probably just looked drunk and squinteyed.

“Anyway,” I said, standing awkwardly onto wobbly legs, “I need a piss.”

I pushed back my chair, accidentally knocking it over as I stepped away from the table. As I walked off towards the back door of the house, I suddenly felt very unstable.

It came over me like a wave. The world went wildly out of focus. I could barely keep my eyes open. My legs felt weak, like they could barely carry my weight. I swayed, my head swimming, and I wobbled this way and that. The more I tried to keep a straight line, the more my body chose to lurch violently in the opposite direction, like I was fighting a powerful magnet. It was hard enough just staying upright, let alone moving forwards.

Aware that everyone was watching me, I pigeon-stepped across the lawn, trying to stay as straight and upright as I could. I could see the swimming pool in my peripheral vision, and I tried to keep as far from it as possible. I locked in on the light from the door in front of me. All I had to do was walk straight. But the harder I tried, the more I felt myself drifting to the left. Towards the pool.

“Careful of the pool,” I heard someone shout out behind me.

“Yes, thank you,” I shouted back, “I’m perfectly capable of not falling in a swimming pool, thank you.”

Did I say thank you twice? I thought, as I continued to walk, stumbling closer and closer to the pool. And did I really just sign up to run a 10k obstacle course, climbing over electric fences?

I straightened myself again. I walked slowly and steadily, like a drunk driver trying to convince a police officer I was sober. One foot in front of the other. Move towards the light. Just walk in a straight line.

But the swimming pool’s magnetic pull grew stronger. And the more I tried to fight it, the more it pulled me closer.

“Dave, seriously,” I heard Catherine call out behind me.

I threw my hand up in the air, the middle digit extended in an act of childish rebellion. And that was all it took to completely unbalance me. I swerved violently to the left, tripping over my own feet, hopping, lurching and dancing until I tumbled over.

I went into the water sideways.

Read the rest in 46% Better Than Dave by Alastair Puddick .

My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Love Books Group

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