Road Songs and Rivers

Every road's a tunnel. (Monte Dutton)
Every track’s a tunnel. (Monte Dutton)

I hit the road this morning wishing I was going to somewhere like Texas, or Nashville, or some other place that was more than eight-five minutes away.

Much of my time these days is spent holed up at the house typing away. When I get out, it’s golden.

From time to time, an old friend from the stock car racing wars wants to get together and reminisce. Since most of my NASCAR friends are sequestered away somewhere in the Charlotte area, hiding in plain sight, I often find myself meeting them somewhere about halfway. This morning the site was at a favorite little café of mine, The Front Porch, located where Highway Nine crosses over Interstate Seventy-Seven outside of Chester.

I crossed over the glistening brown waters of the Broad, and the bubbling brook of the Sandy, and the rolling current of the Enoree, perched roughly in between. I passed through Carlisle, still famous as a speed trap even though the last time it really was one was about thirty years ago, and Whitmire, where I once talked my way out of a ticket on the way to Rockingham. The route today was once the one I traced through the country, though this destination was a little less than halfway to the old stock-car track in the Sandhills.

It was sunny, and colorful, and I listened to music that most who read this wouldn’t recognize. Brian Burns has several times closed the little Texas festival that I opened, and I listened to his wondrous album American Junkyard, and then I switched to another Texan who is legendary within and mostly unknown without, Bob Livingston, and another splendid piece of work, Gypsy Alibi. One of the consequences of writing songs is they detract from the time I used to spend listening, and most of my listening is on the road, and little of my time is there. From time to time, it helps to regain touch.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I sang along, up this hill and down, and up this hill again, which is from an old country song, but I don’t remember which, and I just had a wonderful time with visions of short stories dancing in my head. These little observations that flicker across my consciousness wind up growing into something that is almost indistinguishable. I’ve written short stories that began with a fellow sitting near me in Hardee’s, a tale told me by a motel maid, and wandering by a picnic on the way to a basketball game I thought was in Clinton but was actually in Virginia because I had read my schedule wrong.

That’s just in the past few months.

This one isn’t fiction, but, in a roundabout way, it’s about writing, which is why it meets the criteria for this blog and not the one at The criteria have evolved, but they exist in a coherent form for now.

My iPhone is an electronic cocktail napkin. I’m referring to the famous songs that were written on napkins in Nashville bars. I’ve been known to pull off the road so that I could hunt and peck myself a little note, such as a catchy title for a song.

Today has been both literally and figuratively golden, and in at least a quadruple-entendre sort of way.

Now I’ve got to fix some coffee so that I can alertly make up my mind whether or not I’m up for a little venture out into the frontier beyond the bounds of my property. At the moment, I’m thinking not, but that’s pre-coffee.

              I hope you enjoy the short stories and observations about writing them here. My blogs about sports and other non-fictional subjects are available at www.montedutton, and if you are sufficiently interested to actually put a small investment in my writing, my books are available here:


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