Both Sides Now

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Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 9:53 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Money can’t buy love. Lack of it damned sure can’t. It has, however, put me in a much better mood.

Last week was the culmination of months of negotiation, ably handled by nephew who has business sense, that began when the mayor asked me if the Hudson M. Dutton who owned a plot of land outside town was I.

Now I have financial security again, fleeting though it may be. As best I know, I have paid off all my debts. Money doesn’t make much difference to me unless I don’t have much. Thus has it hung over me ever since that fateful day when my longtime employee eliminated my job.

Not that I was ever obsessed by it, but it was January 4, 2013.

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Please do not respond to the reading of this blog by offering me ways to invest my modest wealth. The aforementioned nephew, to whom I am grateful, is going to handle a good bit of that, too. I’d appreciate it if you don’t do something like burglarize my house. It’s the same unruly dump it was before.

I have already donated sums I consider appropriate to the tax-deductible organizations of my choice. My good fortune has been in the portion of the media in which I do not participate. For about half a year, I have recused myself.

A recreation park will be built on land that was formerly mine. I don’t see myself as any better off. I just have money that has replaced the land, which is not altogether a good thing. I didn’t sell all the land. For instance, I am presently sitting in a broken-down recliner in a house that still belongs to me. I still own the part of the farm that fronts the highway. My mother’s house has some space behind it to provide her some peace and quiet from the construction and racket that is to come.

I wasn’t sour or bitter. I have had enough grip on reality to consider myself the captain of my fate and master of my soul ever since my job of 16-1/2 years ended. I’ve worked as hard as ever, writing books, free-lance stories and otherwise carving out my own tiny pieces of a pie that hasn’t gotten any larger.

For over a week, ever since I pitched a small tantrum over the last ditches and potholes of government deliberation, my mood has improved. I’ve become more charming than usual to waiters, cashiers, athletes, coaches and assorted fellow men and women in general.

One of my favorite movie lines was from Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies: “I don’t trust happiness. Never have. Never will.”

This has been fortified by the fact that I’m reading an oral biography of the late Pat Conroy, My Exaggerated Life. Then there’s one of the lines from my favorite source of wisdom, Tom T. Hall: “I guess that he’s as happy as a thinking man can be.”

Sometimes I envy people who can blithely accept that which they don’t fully understand. I reckon I’m bad to think about it too much.

Enjoy it while you can, friends. A tornado’s liable to come tomorrow.

Life is hard / No matter where you go / It’s a tortured path / Tough row to hoe / When the wheels spin / Got a heavy load / Hoping I can get / To the paved road.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

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To Think, Sports Was Once Considered an Educational Experience …

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Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 6, 2019, 4:45 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

An alarmingly large array of life’s experiences are stupid, but that’s too broad a topic for a blog being written while watching NFL playoff games.

Sports is also too broad a topic, and this isn’t going to be comprehensive. It’s going to be limited to what occurs to me while watching NFL playoff games.

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Rules vary too much. Sometimes I write about a high school football game on Friday and a college game on Saturday, and then I watch a pro game on TV on Sunday. It’s confusing for no good reason.

“Touchdown!”

“No, it’s not.”
“Why not?”

“In college, you can’t advance that ball. You can in the pros.”

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“What about high school?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

Some differences make sense, but the majority do not.

Why must there be a difference between how interference calls are assessed? Why must there be a difference between a running play that “crosses the plane” and a passing play, where the receiver must maintain control when he falls to the ground, even though he had possession, albeit briefly, when he caught the ball? Why is there a two-minute warning? That goes back to a time when there wasn’t a scoreboard, and time was kept by the referee. That time has passed.

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Why, in soccer, is there a scoreboard with a clock, and yet the game ends when the referee, who has allegedly been paying attention to all the time not adequately measured in front of everyone by means of said clock, decides it does?

Why is it one foot in bounds in high school and college and two in the pros? Is it because pros are more skilled? If so, they’d be even more skilled if they’d had to get two feet down in middle school.

The stupidity starts before the game even starts. A coin flip is a random event, but, for some reason, it’s too complicated for the captain of the football team to get right, so a team can “defer” to the second half. I don’t think the game is made any better by having an option to “defer,” thus postponing any decision to the second half, where it is elementary, my dear (Deshaun) Watson.

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It’s embarrassing that a grown man has to pay an even more grown man to yank him back to the sideline every time the more prominent grown man gets emotional. It’s embarrassing for state troopers to play Secret Service for head coaches of football teams. One day, if Holly Rowe asks a tough question, a trooper is going to haul her off to jail.

Almost every receiver and every player trying to cover him interferes on every play. The official has to determine how much is too much and which player did the most of it. “Son, I’m sorry, but you can’t play for us here at Soda Pop Tech. You don’t know how to interfere.”

For years I’ve heard it said that the referees could call holding on every play, but, in fact, they only call it on a quarter of them. Forty years ago, offensive linemen were allowed to use their hands in order to reduce holding penalties. Since that rule was changed, holding has at least doubled.

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Yet too many rules are made to make the games easier to officiate. That’s why the only jump ball in basketball is at the beginning. Jump balls are fun to watch. The obvious reason jump balls aren’t held is so referees don’t have to throw the ball straight up.

In baseball, a player with a bat in his hand is a batter, unless he’s hit by a pitch, at which point he becomes a “batsman,” which seems to me a ridiculously archaic use of the language. He ought to be a hit batter, for gosh sakes.

“Hey, batter, batter, batter, suh-wing, batter!”

“Hey, batsman, batsman, batsman, get hit, batsman!”

Sports events have too much dead time. The officials started huddling and the offenses stopped. Between reviews, huddles and TV (or, if there is no TV, “media”) timeouts, it’s a wonder the athletes don’t start smoking again. There’s plenty of time to catch their breaths …

If they must have “media timeouts,” hey, let me have one. “Hey, ref, how about a timeout? I’ve fallen behind on my stats.” Everybody gets a “media timeout” except the media. And a 30-second timeout always takes more than 30 seconds.

“Hey, the games are too long!”

Wonder why?

I just looked up at the Eagles-Vikings game. Here’s what I just heard.

“Since the rule change this year, that third step makes it a legal catch.”

In a game played between professional football players making millions of dollars, they just had a fumble no one bothered to recover. So, naturally, it became an incomplete pass. Why?

Because it’s stupid. That’s why. I could go on, but this is a good place to stop.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

Another Year Begins on High Notes

Josh, Anthony, Ella and Alex crowd around the imaginary mic with Uncle Monte.

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 4, 2019, 10:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

I don’t make resolutions. Progress is a day-to-day matter. I just do what I need to do every day. Everyone has to roll with punches to some degree. The year just completed was one of turnaround. I have high hopes that the one ahead will bring success.

I don’t particularly believe in omens, but if I did, the final day of 2018 would have been a good one. My best day of the year was the last one.

My new partner, Alex.

I saw my favorite and only niece, Ella, her husband Tony, and the three boys who adore me, Alex, Anthony and Josh. I hadn’t seen them in a long time. Alex turns 16 later this month. He brought the ukulele he got for Christmas and amazed me at how fast he is picking it up. I brought a small guitar, my Little Martin, and taught Alex how to play along with me on a song we performed for the part of the family present: my mother, Miss Betty, and sister, Ginger; my nephew Ray; Tony, Ella and the boys. Our lives haven’t been successful enough to be feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys, and I sang Hank Williams’ pain songs, Jerry Jeff (Walker’s) train songs and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. At Ray Phillips’ house, weren’t nobody feeling no pain.

Alex likes indie folk music, but he also likes Hank Williams. When he was very young, he and I would sing “Move It on Over” on the way to a movie. He still remembers the words, and I showed him how “Honky Tonkin’” is mostly just one chord, and he was highly amused by “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Honky Tonk Blues.”

The song we played together was Charlie Robison’s “Barlight.”

Just for fun, on three.

I drank a couple Samuel Adams’ Boston Lagers. Ray offered me a dark beer, but I went with Sam Adams because the Red Sox are world champions, oshkosh, b’gosh, and we cracked oysters and munched Low Country Boil. Ray’s wife, Jessica, is expecting their fourth, but Thomas, Margaret and Peter are here in town, and I see them fairly often. Ray is happy because he’s a Clemson man and the Tigers are playing for the national championship again. I am happy because I’m a Furman man and the basketball team is doing well. Also, I really enjoyed Texas beating Georgia because I’ve spent a lot of time in the Lone Star State in my life and had an affinity for the Longhorns since Darrell Royal coached them.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Life has since gotten back to normal. I have been writing about local matters and editing releases. A feature about local Clemson fans and their experiences getting to and from Arlington, Texas, where they watched Clemson pound Notre Dame. An opinion piece on Clinton High’s search for a new football coach. The swearing in of local officials elected or reelected in November. Photos of a Laurens High wrestling match. The weekly NASCAR column for Competition Plus. Mrs. Shealy, who ran a flower shop in town when I was growing up, died at 98. The post-holiday crime reports had lots of domestic violence in them.

While finishing off the Clemson story, I half-watched On the Waterfront. Half-watching was fine because I’ve probably whole-watched it a dozen times. Yesterday I was delighted to learn that my mother had watched it, too. (“Monte, I watched a good movie last night.”) We chatted about how great Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb (“Oh, yes. Lee J. Cobb was always good.”) and Eva Marie Saint were.

Tonight I’m going to see the Raiders play Wade Hampton, and tomorrow there’s a doubleheader at Presbyterian College, where the Blue Hose are playing USC Upstate and the Clinton Red Devils are playing Lexington. It’s raining again. The road to my house looks like the Erie Canal.

Life goes on, pleasantly at present.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

This Was the Week that Wasn’t

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 29, 2018, 9:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Sometimes things just don’t go your way. That’s the slogan of my week. It could be the motto, but it would have to be in Latin.

Interdum res non solum viam vestram.

The week has been an adventure that wouldn’t sell because because the protagonist never gets a break. He feels like a ticking clock … and remains that way.

All a blur. (Monte Dutton photos)

The period between Christmas and New Year’s is full of crummy bowl games on TV and holiday basketball tournaments for the high school teams. Laurens County teams fanned out to Clover, Greenwood, Summerville and Chesnee, with one staying home to host a tournament, the Raider Rumble, of its own.

As best I knew, they all began on Thursday. On Wednesday, I was talking to a friend on the phone when he told me the Clinton boys were up 12 on Calhoun Falls. That’s when I found out the Emerald Classic was Dec. 26-28, not 27-29. I hated that because had I known it, I would have driven across Lake Greenwood to write about it. These things happen. As I worked at home on other things, the First Responder Bowl, matching Boston College and Boise State, was on.

Check that. For the first time ever, a bowl game, albeit a small one, was canceled by too much electricity in the air.

(Monte Dutton photo)

The Clinton coach, Eddie Romines, sent a text to the effect that he had thought he sent out something – an email or a text, maybe, or smoke signals, because the high school is only a couple miles away – when the dates had been changed. He might have, though the other media outlets in the county missed it, too.

Since I set up a composite schedule, I’ve had to adjust it quite a few times when notified of changes. Snow cancellations forced numerous moves. For instance, the Laurens Academy girls canceled a game against the Upstate Bearcats, then couldn’t play a game against Southside and wound up playing Easley Home School, a team from Easley aptly consisting of players being home-schooled. Each week, I check my schedule against those on the various athletic department websites before I publish the weekly list on GoLaurens.com. The Clinton website still listed the Emerald tourney as Dec. 27-29. If I had changed it, I changed it back. It’s all a blur.

While I waited for the results from Greenwood – Clinton won 69-47 – I watched a splendid football game between Minnesota and Georgia Tech. I’m kidding. It was a stinker. The Gophers won 34-10.

Evidence that Ninety Six has a girls’ basketball team. The Wildcats have played Clinton twice. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Thursday, the Raider Rumble began at Laurens District High School. The Raiders were scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. and 7:50. I decided to attend the night game because I didn’t have time for both, and I could get some information about the former game before the latter started.

Little did I know that fate had intervened. Soon after I ordered a hamburger steak at The Hub, my favorite pre-LDHS-ballgame hangout, someone mentioned that the Raiders were playing … then.

Uh-oh,” I said.

See, Ninety Six didn’t show, and they didn’t find out till this morning, so Laurens played a game against Hillcrest that didn’t count, and the game tonight was moved up to 6. They’re playing Carolina now.”

You want the hamburger steak to go?” the girl who had taken my order asked.

I was a bit miffed.

Nah,” I said. “What? I’m going to try to eat a hamburger steak while it’s sitting in my lap and I’m taking notes? I’ll just go take some photos of the second half.”

At the moment, I was thinking, for the second night in a row, I could have seen Clinton play in Greenwood. As it turned out, Laurens won big, and Clinton lost big, and I took some photos of the Raiders’ romp in the Raider Rumble.

I didn’t go to a game on Friday because the District 56 school board called a special meeting that consisted entirely of going into executive session to discuss a personnel decision. A key personnel decision in Clinton is the hiring of a new football coach. I spent over an hour chatting amiably with Rosanne Braswell in her nearby office while the board deliberated in private. When they came out of executive session, they adjourned.

Once again, and for the third straight day or night, I could have been in Greenwood, where the Clinton boys’ basketball team was finishing third by defeating host Emerald in overtime.

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Back home, with Washington State and Iowa State providing the backdrop, I cranked out basketball stories and selected photos until the wee hours of late-night talk.

The Clinton girls are 11-0 entering Saturday’s game in far Summerville. The Laurens boys played this morning for seventh place in Clover. The girls are playing someone at LDHS, where the Raider Rumble seems almost theoretical. Laurens Academy, a small private school, went 1-2 against the large public schools in the Lowe’s Roundball Classic in Chesnee. Georgia predictably handled the Presbyterian College women Friday afternoon in Athens. The men are at Jacksonville on Sunday.

I’m about to watch South Carolina play Virginia in the Belk Bowl, which I once attended. Then the eyes of the recently Precipitation, but normally Palmetto, State and Catholics everywhere are upon the game in Arlington, Texas, between Clemson and Notre Dame. My nephew is both a Clemson graduate and a Catholic. I suspect he would be undismayed if the Tigers won by 50. Then there’s the game the late Keith Jackson should have pronounced: Oke-luh-HO-ma! vs. Al-uh-BAM-uh!

I don’t think there’s any more basketball to miss until Friday. I think I’ll fix breakfast. It’s 12:17 p.m.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

An Historical Novel of Wartime Intrigue, Rendered Skillfully

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 25, 2018

By Monte Dutton

I’m quite ashamed of myself.

Ordinarily, I would have devoured The Torch Betrayal, by Glenn Dyer, in a couple weeks. It was a casualty of the increasingly frenetic pace of my life over the past months. I’ve been out and about, writing stories about local affairs, editing news releases and selecting photos, looking up who died and who got arrested, and trying as best I could to write some more fiction of my own and spend a little time each day plunking away at a guitar.

I haven’t read as much, and that’s a shame because the best way to learn how to write is to read.

Every writer needs to read. Dyer is a pro. His World War II spy novel is exquisitely paced, conventional in composition, well researched, and cohesively plotted. It features cameos of famous historical figures, among them, “Wild Bill” Donovan, Sir Winston Churchill, General Dwight Eisenhower, and, briefly, the lovely actress Hedy Lamarr.

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The American Conor Thorn and the English Emily Bright are tasked with retrieving a stolen document that contains plans for the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch. Thorn’s recent past is tragic. He is unafraid of death because it haunts him, and he feels he must redeem himself. Bright is proper in the English way. She understands the culture of British espionage and helps the impulsive Thorn navigate its nuances. Thorn represents OSS; Bright, M16. They go in search of spies, Nazi sympathizers and … the missing document.

The novel makes its way through England, Morocco, Portugal, and the Vatican. By the time Thorn and Bright uncover the bad guy, a Cabinet minister named Henry Longworth, but before they can nab him, he is en route to rendezvous with the Germans amid the protection of the Roman Catholic Church. Thorn and Bright pursue them, accompanied by a friendly priest.

The climax is, of course, heroic. The surprises are … surprising, but that they occur is not a shock.

It’s a yarn I couldn’t have put down had not circumstances forced me to do so. I must do better.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

One More Year in Review

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Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 24, 2018, 1:31 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I’ve been working on stories about the year in review, so I guess I might as well take up the subject of my own.

Milestones come at intervals by definition, I suppose, but they’re not necessarily significant just because they end with a “0” or a “5.” I turned 60 this year, but I don’t think it made me wiser. I didn’t just awaken on April 8 and feel noticeably older. I was just a day further from the cradle and closer to the grave.

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What’s a day? What’s a year?

What’s the fourth Red Sox world championship in 15 seasons? Now, that, sir or ma’am, means something.

I still don’t care about money unless I don’t have it, which means it has been on my mind constantly for six years. This year brought some relief and the promise of resolution. The important date wasn’t when I turned 60. The important date is in a few weeks. I’ll be freeeee … but not free falling.

Scrambling to make a living, I sat aside too much this year. I haven’t written but a few songs. My eighth novel has slowed to a crawl. I haven’t gotten out my pastels and completed any drawings in a long time. I haven’t read as much. I’ve probably written twice as much, but most was on some sort of deadline related to hours, not days or months.

The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” found new meaning when I grew a beard because my electric razor died. People who like a beard will tell you while you’ve got it. People who don’t will wait until you shave it off.

Monte Dutton

Just yesterday something new occurred to me. A Christmas Parade is the anti-Halloween. People bring candy to you. I thought of this yesterday at Mount Pleasant when a tiny Tootsie Roll bounced off my noggin.

Also, I ponder a haircut for at least a couple of months before I actually get one (and I need one now). I end up getting a haircut when I’ve got time on my hands (Don Williams added “… you on my mind, nowhere to spend all my money …”) and a Great Clips is nearby. I just get an all-over No. 8 because Carl Yastrzemski wore that number. It’s quite short, and then it gets quite long.

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I didn’t diet but lost a little over 20 pounds. I just started eating twice a day. Usually I fix my own breakfast unless I have a morning appointment. Sometimes I eat out before or after. Sometimes I have lunch. If I have a luncheon to attend, I skip breakfast.

I need a new belt. Or a hole-puncher.

At this rate, I’ll still be quite fat when I die. But, as Rick Nelson wrote, “It’s all right now. Learned my lesson well. Can’t please everybody. Just got to please yourself.” Much besides politics is the art of the possible.

I grew to love hummus. A friend brought some to my house. We barely touched it, and he left it on the coffee table with some wheat crackers. I ate it. It grew on me.

If I make an impulse buy and get a milkshake at the drive-through, that night I just snack for supper. A year ago I was slowly gaining weight and never eating sweets. This year I wasn’t worrying about sweets and gradually losing weight.

Go figure. One more way I set an egregious example. Don’t try this at home, kids, and don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

This year has generally been better than the ones that preceded it. It’s a start. I don’t have time for many more comebacks. One of the phrases in almost all of my prayers is “forgive me of my sins, of which there are many.” As Tom T. Hall wrote, “… it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin,’ too.”

Strummin,’ in my case.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Try to do whatever floats your boat. Boats float in many ways.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

At Least There Was No Big One

Monte Dutton photo

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 22, 2018, 2:10 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

If law enforcement used yellow flags, they would have been waving on Spartanburg Highway, Musgrove Street Extension, or South Carolina 56 North, depending on which way one wants to identify the thoroughfare.

Two crashes, neither involving serious injuries, occurred within two hours of each other, about 150 yards apart.

This I learned quickly because the wrecks occurred close – very close – to where I live.

A little after 10 a.m., the electricity went out, which was unusual for a sunny day.

The phone rang. I had a high rate of confidence that, when I answered, I’d hear either my mother or my sister asking, “Have you got electricity?”

“Nope.”

It was my sister.

“What are you going to do?”

“Wait till it comes back on,” I said.

Because I knew she was curious and might well call several more times, I went to the City of Clinton’s Facebook page and found that a car had run off the road, hit a pole, and skidded to a halt slightly shy of hitting the front of Carolina Beautiful Nursery and Garden Center.

Power was out in much of this side of town, apparently. The city’s crews restored the electricity in something over an hour, much of which I spent strumming away at my guitar and singing snippets of old country songs.

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The Jared Birmingham Bowl, matching the stalwart teams of Wake Forest and Memphis, had started on ESPN when the phone rang again. Most of the calls on my land line nowadays involve either family or recordings.

“Hello.”

“Are you all right?” asked my sister.

“Almost exactly the same,” I replied.

“There’s been another wreck. Right in front of your house.” My house is actually down a dirt road that has been flooded for most of a month because this fall South Carolina became the Precipitation instead of the Palmetto State. “I thought you were in it.”

“I haven’t hardly gotten out of this chair,” I said.

Because of my keen journalistic instincts – and because I had already been writing about a fatal accident on Interstate 26 in the early-morning hours for GoLaurens.com – I realized I should go out there and take a picture, which I did, and I chatted amiably with a couple friendly police officers about whether or not Highway 56 maintained a NASCAR sanction.

The highway was blocked. The wrecks were on flatbeds. The toughest task for yours truly was backing my pickup between the trees and bushes lining the road to my house for about 200 yards. I haven’t exercised my backing skills so thoroughly since my late father’s truck was pulling – or at times pushing – a cattle trailer into a pasture, in the wee hours of the morning, in Max Meadows, Virginia, 40-some-odd years ago. (Bill Elliott used to be fond of saying “some odd,” and I’ve always wanted to use it in print.)

I think I read somewhere of lightning that actually did strike twice in the same place, and now I’m writing about wrecks that struck twice in almost the same place.

It was a home game.

I told a friend about it.

“There must have been a hell of a party out your way,” he said.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.