Columbo Knows

That’s a heap of macaroni. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, July 10, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

Most of the time, I do my writing in the morning. It’s when I work the best. I get up, fix some coffee, take the daily meds, sip the coffee, wish everybody happy birthday on Facebook, fix breakfast, and settle down to work, most mornings at about nine.

There’s a background. Sometimes it’s a documentary or a movie. This year I started watching old sitcoms on Sundance: one day it’s M*A*S*H over and over, the next The Andy Griffith Show, then the Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, and Barney Miller every now and then.

Recently, I started watching Columbo on Hallmark from nine to eleven.

By Monte Dutton

Columbo is sort of opposite of Sherlock Holmes. The viewer knows who the murderer is right away. Then Columbo gradually figures it out. It’s always a near-perfect crime, concocted by a man or woman who is both very smart and doesn’t think Columbo is. Columbo is convenient. I’ll have CBS This Morning on, and I can set the timer to Columbo, and I won’t have to watch even a second of Let’s Make a Deal.

I keep tabs on Columbo while I’m writing about a character of my own. Or I’ll write a blog to work my way into fiction. Or pay some bills. Or work on book promotion. Afternoon baseball games are good backgrounds. The only trouble with music is that it makes me want to play some, and writing prose is a better use of my time. With some of that, I actually make money.

Lieutenant Columbo would not waste his time on Donald Trump because the President of the United States does not bother to plan anything. He makes everything up as he goes along, and, because he does so, everyone around him has to. Mister Trump is the best example of a kind of person with I have had many dealings over the years.

Captain of the Starship Twitter (Monte Dutton sketch)

Mister Trump is a bullshit artist. Forgive the language. The language has no other phrase that fits Mister Trump so accurately.

A long time ago – and a month is a long time in America right now – I wrote that I laugh uproariously right up until the time I start weeping.

This morning Columbo nailed Dick Van Dyke, who was acting like he was a devious photographer opposite Peter Falk acting like a devious homicide detective. When the photographer met the alleged kidnapper of his wife, he showed up late at the junkyard, where he killed the man he was setting up as the killer. Columbo reasoned that a man trying to save his wife’s life would not show up late. This was just a small part of the hints Columbo accumulated and processed.

Mister Trump was in the same hotel, while his son Donald Jr.; his campaign manager, Paul Manafort; and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; met with a Russian lawyer. Donald Jr., once this meeting was uncovered and substantiated, said they were meeting over restoring the availability of Russian children to be adopted by American families. Who knew the campaign was so interested in orphans?

Then Donald Jr. said he had no idea the Russian lawyer was going to offer up “damaging information” on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Then he said what she offered was just crazy. It was probably related to that view most Republicans have that Secretary of State Clinton was an International Woman of Mystery, traveling around the world murdering her enemies in exchange for donations to her and her husband’s charitable foundation.

I mean, that’s why they call her “Killary,” right?

That very afternoon, Mister Trump, who didn’t know any of this was going on, even though he was in the building, made his tweet claiming that Clinton had destroyed 33,000 emails, undoubtedly the ones where, intent on world domination, she coolly planned her dastardly acts.

If Lieutenant Columbo rang the doorbell of the president’s Trump Tower penthouse, Mister Trump would dash to the freight elevator and hop a plane to Baja or somewhere.

Mister Trump and, by extension, his minions, who know no other way, just make it up as they along. I feel sorry for some of them. I wouldn’t trade places with Sean Spicer for three wishes from a genie. As the man I miss more than Barack Obama, David Letterman, said, “I wouldn’t give his problems to a monkey on a rock!”

Many years ago, a wise man made an observation to me about a powerful man after he fell: “His ego got so big that he thought he was invisible.”

The Republican Party is now officially soft on Russia. Thank God Senator Joe McCarthy didn’t live to see it.

Aw, muscadines! (Monte Dutton sketch)

Maybe the Russians didn’t win the election for Mister Trump. That sure is the way it looks. Mister Trump said he wanted to work together with the Russians on cyber security. What’s next? Harnessing the nuclear genie with Kim Jung-un?

It just beats me. It’s not uncommon for me to hear the supporters of Mister Trump make some startling remarks.

He’s the first politician I’ve ever known who tells the truth. I have almost never heard a truth, much less the truth.

So what if he colluded with the Russians? It’s not against the law.

That’s just fake news! In other words, Mister Trump’s enemies are making up everything.

The news was leaked! If it was leaked, it could not have been made up. It could not be fake news.

I do take exception when someone on TV says that Mister Trump is unpredictable. He’s as predictable as a traffic jam at rush hour. Everything he does wrong, he accuses everyone else of doing. Every day. Every way.

Lieutenant Columbo wouldn’t waste his time.


(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at (

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).


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