Dare I ask for ... a do-over? Yes, I'm about to do just that.
A couple of readers felt that the ending of chapter 49, where Pat and Dave made a few wisecracks at the expense of Paul and his new girlfriend, came across as harsh and mean-spirited. Believe it or not, what got posted there was actually a toned-down version of that little exchange. When I read through the initial version, it did indeed seem a little mean to me, so I dialed it down a notch before I put it up on the site.
There's one thing that, as a writer, I'm still coming to terms with. I know what's going to happen next in the story, and the reader doesn't. This was one instance where I allowed my own "pre-knowledge" (if you will) to influence my writing. So, what I'd like to do is this. I plan to do a re-write of that last part of chapter 49. It won't be a major overhaul; I don't intend to remove the wisecracks. What I'll do instead is provide a little more context (which is never a bad thing). This will serve to lengthen chapter 49 a little (also never a bad thing).
It's normal for 21-year-olds, even the recycled Pat and the new and improved Dave, to make good-natured comments of this type about friends. I guess what I was trying to do is indicate that Pat and Dave, even though they both are quite different now, still have the same wacky chemistry they showed back at the beginning of the story.
Look for the re-write to be up in a few days, and I'll make another blog post at that time.