Read Days Ago: The Adjustment by Scott Phillips, 2011, 9781582437309.
Phillips is always a good choice for our annual Kansas trip. Driving through or visiting the setting makes a difference. It never hurts that Phillips always writes damn well and tells a good story. The usual spoilers follow.
Wayne Ogden is out of the Army and back to work at Collins Aircraft in 1946 Wichita. Wayne is officially in charge of the publicity department at Collins but his main job is keeping track of old man Collins. Wayne makes sure Collins does not drive drunk, start fights, get caught with whores, or otherwise embarrass himself. Not that the powerful Collins could ever get arrested in Wichita for anything outside murder.
Wayne worked for Collins before joining the Army. Ogden loved the Army and made out like a bandit as a Master Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps. Ogden had a great time in England and Italy selling black market tires and booze, running craps games, pimping, and anything else to make a buck. Wayne is having some trouble adjusting back to civilian life.
Wayne is a scumbag. He is married but picks up chicks and bangs whores throughout the novel. Wayne cares little for others but likes the lack of real work his job entails. Babysitting Collins is not too difficult but Collins is a drunk with a mercurial temper and Wayne has grown to hate Collins.
Things happen. Wayne fires Collins's bodyguard. Wayne gets Collins hooked on pain pills. Wayne has a stalker from his Italian days sending threatening letters. Wayne blackmails members of Collins Aircraft board of Directors to make sure Collins stays in charge. One Director kills himself. Another Director has a massive heart attack. Wayne sees and gets ready to murder a former Army colleague who stole a couple grand from Wayne. Wayne leaves the guy when finding the guy has cancer - Wayne leave shim to suffer slowly. Wayne treats his wife very poorly and is not happy when she is pregnant. Wayne wants the happy-go-lucky chick he married before the war. Wayne also knocks up a co-worker. Wayne works with a mail-order porn business. Wayne casually murders his postal stalker. Wayne re-enlists in the Army with plans to join a pal in Japan where the post-war economy is wide open for vice and corruption. Wayne leaves town, abandoning Wichita, his wife and "heirs in utero...permanently."
1. Wayne is an heir of the main character in Cottonwood. I believe he is the grandson but I do not exactly recall the timeline of Cottonwood.
2. We visited the Kansas Aviation Museum right before I started reading this. I would have paid more attention to the various biographical displays if I had started before. I do not know if Phillips based Collins off one person.
3. Wayne does feel paternal, with sexual overtones, towards Old Man Collins's secretary. secretary is so naive and innocent that Wayne is drawn to her. When he hears she is engaged to a 30-year-old minister he is both happy and curious. What kind of guy, thinks whore loving Wayne, is a 30-year-old virgin? Wayne sets up Minister by having scatological and bestial porn mailed in his name to his church.
4. Phillips uses several ten dollar words.